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■■ • • • High het bow 
Points to the sky, her stem the meanwhile fixed 
Within the frosea vice — ’’ 



An Arctic Poem 







Corresponding Member of the Dutch and American Geographical Societies; Author of “The 

Dutch in the Arctic Seas," etc. 



NEW YORK : 27 A 29 WEST 23D ST, 





Press 0/ 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 
New York 



Preface to the Translation ... . , . v 

Translator’s Note xv 

Historical Introduction i 

The Hollanders in Nova Zembla : 

Canto I. — The Project 53 

“ II. — Tempest 58 

“ III. — Shipwreck 64 

“ IV.— Nova Zembla . . . , , 68 

“ V. — The Building of the Hut ... 74 

“ VI,— Night 81 

“ VII. — Evening Hours 87 

** VIII. — Aurora Borealis .... 91 

“ IX.— Death 95 

“ X. — Day loo 

•* XI. — Adrift 104 

“ XII. — Homeward . . . . . 109 

Notes 115 

• • • 




T he interest which has ever attached to the story of 
Arctic adventures — though usually associated as 
these adventures are with prose narration, and seemingly 
ill-calculated through want of romance for poetic descrip- 
tion — may fairly render any apology for the appearance 
of this little work unnecessary with the reader ; however, 
it may not, perhaps, be out of place to explain the cir- 
cumstances which have led to its appearance. 

The labors of the writer, in his zeal for the renewal of 
Dutch Arctic research, until lately so long abandoned, 
and his incident investigation as to the past work of Hol- 
land in the field of Northern enterprise, led him early 
upon the story of the voyages of Barents and his com- 
panions three hundred years ago, so thrilling and so 
justly famous ; but the instinct of the Dutch to celebrate 
poetically the eloquent passages in their history was 
found to have made no exception even of this sombre 
episode, and it was soon discovered that their most 




esteemed poet of the century had told the story in charm- 
ing verse of the Overwintering ” of the Hollanders in 

Nova Zembla. 

So struck was I, indeed, with this poem of Hendrik 
Tollens, that at the time of my writing (1876) I even 
sought a translation of it from a gifted hand in London. 
In this endeavor, however, though encouraged at first I 
was disappointed finally, and was obliged to content my- 
self with the wish, expressed in the preface of my book, 
“ that some poet, with the daring requisite to attempt the 
translation of this chef-d'auvre of Dutch poesy, and pos- 
sessing something of my own enthusiasm for Holland, 
would yet place at my disposal an English version of it 
in order that it might find a place in our language as a 
further contribution to this subject.'* * 

But my efforts did not cease here ; for on returning 
from England, two or three years later, the matter was 
still kept in mind. Among those whom I then consulted 
in confirmation of my views — ^both as to the merits of the 
poem and the desirability of seeing it translated into 
English — was that learned critical student and writer, the 
Librarian of the American Geographical Society, whose 
letter relating to the subject I venture to give here, and 
whose encouragement of the present undertaking, in- 

^ The Dutch in the Arctic Seas.” (London, TrQhner & Co., 1878.) Third 
Edition. Preface, p. xxxiv. 



deed, has been agreeably the reverse of doubtful. The 
letter was as follows : 

American Geographical Society, 

No. II West 29th Street, 

New York, April 12, 1879. 

Dear Mr. Van Campen : — I return to you with best thanks “ De 
Overwintering der Hollanders op Nova Zembla,” by Tollens, to 
which you allude in the preface of your book, and which I have read 
with the greatest pleasure. With the occasional assistance of the 
very inferior English translation I have been enabled to read it in the 
original Dutch. This poem, relating the sufferings of the heroic 
Hollanders on the inhospitable shores of the Arctic seas, abounds in 
poetical beauties of the highest order. It would indeed be a boon to 
all lovers of true poetry if this noble work were to be rendered into 
English in a manner worthy of the original ; and the poet who would 
undertake this task would earn both the gratitude of English-speaking 
people for making them acquainted with one of the finest foreign 
poems of our times, as well as that of the kindred race of the Dutch, 
who would be glad to see a work upon which they look with national 
pride and delight made familiar outside of their own country. 

Yours very truly, 

Leopold Lindau. 

S. R. Van Campen, Esq. 

This masterpiece of Hendrik Tollens had long since 
been translated into French by the accomplished Belgian 
poet, Auguste Clavareau * ; and the translation has gone 

^ ** L’ Hivemage des Hollandais Ik la Nouvelle-Zemble, 1596-1597.*’ Traduit de 
Tollens. Par Auguste Clavareau, Membre correspondant de 1 * Institut des 
Pays-Bas, des Soci6t6s de Litterature de Leyde, de Gaud, de Li6ge et d* Arché- 
ologie d* Athènes, Chevalier des Ordres der Lion Néerlandai set d( la Couronue df 
Chene. Quatriöme Edition. Utrecht: i8^i. 


through several editions in Holland alone, having been 
prefaced with an historical introduction rendered from 
the historian Van Kampen’s account of the third voyage 
of Barents, in his “ Geschiedenis der Nederlanders 
Buiten Europa.” Likewise an anonymous English trans- 
lation (a translation barbarously literal, and to which Mr. 
Lindau alludes) was printed in Holland in i860. The 
manifest inferiority of the latter, however, served but to 
incite me the more to become, if possible, instrumental 
in giving to the public something fairly worthy of the 

Having many a time taken from the shelves of the 
British Museum Reading-Room Longfellow's “ Poets 
and Poetry of Europe,” in which there are some speci- 
mens from the Dutch poets, I came at length to asso- 
ciate with him the possible performance of this task, as 
one of whose competence there could be no doubt, if he 
could but be got to interest himself in the matter ; while 
on the other hand no poet in our language was more be- 
loved of Hollanders. To this end, in the spring of 1879, 
I paid a visit to Longfellow, provided with a letter of 
introduction kindly furnished me by a near relation of 
the poet's, and urged upon him the desirability of a 
translation of the “ Overwintering," asking that he might 
undertake the wprk, 



If, however, my mission was not successful, I was at 
least well repaid for my pains, and my visit to Cambridge 
and its courteous and kindly poet on that spring day will 
not soon be forgotten. Longfellow knew well the name 
of Tollens and the esteem in which the Dutch held this 
poem ; but his literary plans were too many, and, evi- 
dently to me, he regarded his remaining days too few to 
admit of his taking in hand any strictly new work — work 
which had not come to him in his own way and to the 
performance of which he was not rather in duty pledged. 
He nevertheless quite appreciated the importance of my 
errand in the endeavor I was making, and though he 
could not think of any one to whom he could recommend 
me, he said he should “ feel interested in knowing how I 
succeeded.” But I could not bring myself to the point 
of trying further then. Indeed, with this effort the mat- 
ter practically rested, though to no little extent because 
of a preoccupation of mind for some time past with 
things other than literary — ever impatient albeit to return 
to my Dutch labors.* 

^ I cannot forbear availing myself of the opportunity afforded here to express 
the obligation ever felt to my friend, the late £. M. Langeveld, who supplied me 
with a literal prose rendering of this poem, as one of the various helps toward 
translation I had made it my business to collect. The work was cheerfully and 
voluntarily performed by my yoang friend when spending a vacation at his home 
at Texel, Holland ; he sharing every Netherlander’s pride in this stirring epic, if 
one mr.y so term it, of Tollens, heightened perhaps in his case by the fact that the 
chief hero now associated with the poem, Barents, was himself a native of a neigh- 



But all things are said to come to him who is able to 
wait. During the time these efforts were being made on 
my part, a young university graduate, reared on Amer- 
ican soil but whose birthplace was Holland, and whose 
“ enthusiasm ** for his native land is, naturally, not less 
ardent than my inherited love, was employing his vaca- 
tion periods in translating this Dutch masterpiece, and 
pluming the wings of his youthful muse in the endeavor ; 
attracted thereto by the thrilling interest of the poem 
in the original, and moved by a desire similar to my own 
of seeing it brought over into our language. 

Completed some months since, the translator finally 
sent the result of his patient love-labor to the editor of 
the Hew Amsterdam Gazette^ who, both on account of the 
celebrity of the poem and the merit of the rendering, 
welcomed the matter for his paper. Meeting with it in 
the hands of this gentleman, the MS. was shown to me, 
and on glancing through the first two or three pages, I at 
once thought I caught the true ring. Quickly I prophe- 
sied to myself that the long-sought poet had been at last 
discovered ; nor did the appearance of the complete 

boring island. He, moreover, was aware that I proposed to submit the matter to 
Longfellow, whose poetry he was familiar with and whose name he revered. The 
packet enclosing the MS. was sent to me in London, and is postmarked ** Texel, 
19th Aug., ’76.” The reader will, I trust, pardon this digression, for it is at best 
but a faint tribute one can pay to the memory of an affectionate and true friend in 
a note like this. 


translation in print change my opinion in this respect. 

Through the kindly intervention of my editor-friend, an 
interview was in due time arranged between the translator 
and myself, and this interview served only the more to 
convince me of the correctness of my first impression. It 
seemed to me by no means certain that the circumstances 
which had baffled my efforts for so long a time might 
not after all have proved fortunate ones ; for who could 
enter into all the niceties of the language of Tollens, or 
so truly interpret its spirit, as one who had grown up in 
the knowledge of it ! And one, moreover, who was able 
thus to drink in the greatness of the theme itself, might 
be expected to give a rendering with much the same effect 
as if the poem were his own inspiration. 

Finding ourselves in full sympathy with each other in 
respect to this work, and sharing each other’s veneration 
for Holland, the acquaintance speedily bore fruit. The 
translator modestly deferred to my suggestion for an edi- 
tion in book-form ; while publishers were seen who, not 
ignorant of his labor, were disposed to encourage the 
proposition, and accordingly the present volume was de- 
cided upon. 

Thus much for the circumstances which have given 
rise to the book. As to the poem itself, the historical 
basis of which is sketched in the Introduction, it cannot 


cease to be of interest so long as Arctic expeditions are 
known and Northern research, either for commercial or 
scientific ends, continues. 

To-day some of our own countiymen, — ^performing an 
important part in the grand scientific campaign which 
the nations have been conducting for the past two years 
within the Arctic circle — are supposed to be either lost 
or passing the winter on the ice-bound shores óf Green- 
land ; and at the country’s call an expedition is being 
fitted out to proceed to their relief. Surely the bleak 
and dreary kingdom of the North commands much of 
our attention, and any page of its history may well be- 
speak a moment’s thought and interest. The moral 
lessons of this voyage of Barents which the poem re- 
counts, have more than once inspired men engaged in 
such enterprises with encouragement and hope. Numer- 
ous, indeed, as are the recorded instances of indomitable 
courage, by the memory whereof the pioneers of great 
enterprises in later times have fortified their promptings 
to perseverance, — this it was which suggested to the 
heroic Kane the comparison of his position, at one time, 
with that of Barents, marvelling, however, at his own 
preservation. Nor has it been remembered only in the 
midst of fields of snow and ice. The immortal Livingstone, 
in a clime the farthest removed in its every condition from 



that of Nova Zembla, and in the deepest solitude of 
his lonely equatorial wanderings, recalls the incidents of 
Barents* career, and contemplates with a calmness that is 
astounding, in the midst of a fever-laden air, the sublime 
heroism, the extraordinary patience, and the unswerving 
faith in Providence, of the devoted explorer. 

While abounding, as the records of Arctic explorations 
do, in deeds of brilliant heroism the mere mention of 
which were sufiScient to kindle the dullest spirit to emu- 
lation, yet the sufferings entailed by these enterprises 
have been so great, and often so peculiarly harrowing, 
that pitying sympathy, perhaps, rather than admiring en- 
thusiasm must ever be the predominating sentiment as 
we read their annals. In this respect, indeed, the very 
highest perfection of science seems to furnish no advan- 
tage over the rude and insufficient appointments where- 
with our forefathers were compelled to content themselves 
in braving the terrors of the North. The Nordenskiöld 
expedition, though its prolonged absence caused much 
solicitude, affords a happy exception ; but it is signifi- 
cantly alone in its good fortune. The sad story of Sir 
John Franklin needs neither repetition nor comment. 
We have been just freshly reminded of the heart-rending 
details of Lieut. De Long’s terrible sufferings and sad 
fate, and the tears are scarce dry upon the cheeks of 


those who were called more immediately to mourn the 
calamity to his party. Some in our midst, moreover, 
may even now be preparing to mourn lost loved ones 
whose fate is but too uncertain and most deplorably 

It is a tale of woes similar to those experienced in the 
Lena Delta three or four years ago ; a tale of death en> 
dured after horrible privations and untold agonies of 
mind \ a tale of life spared through a thousand threaten- 
ing dangers, that comes to us from three centuries ago 
in this poem, and is here told in enthusiastic strains by a 
countryman of the brave men who so nobly suffered and 
left so ineffaceable and worthy a record to the world. 


Gramercy Park, New York, 

March 22, 1884. 


H endrik tollens, the author of the poem 

of which a translation is here given, was bom 
in the year 1780, at Rotterdam. No poet enjoyed a 
greater popularity in his native country, the favor with 
which he met being due to the happy and attractive 
measure in which his verse combines the qualities of 
power and sweetness, no less than to the patriotic fervor 
and lyric force with which he has depicted numerous 
striking episodes in the history of the Fatherland. 

Among his poems, however, none were more warmly 
greeted than the one now introduced to the English 
reader. It was published in 1819, and its enthusiastic 
reception at that time has been repeated by every suc- 
cessive generation. Every one in Holland knows it by 
heart, from the school-boy, just beginning to be stirred by 
the glorious history of the past, to the mature and erudite 
savant in the highest seats of learning. It may be inter- 
esting to add that Tollens was also the author of the 
noble and spirited national hymn of Holland, familiarly 



known as the “ Wien Neêrlands Bloed.” Tollens died in 
1856, and his admiring countrymen, soon after his de- 
cease, reared to his memory a marble statue, conspicu- 
ously placed in the public park of Rotterdam, which was 
the city not only, as already said, of his birth, but also of 
his life-long residence. 

The translator may be permitted a word as to the 
reproduction of the poem in an English form. He has 
endeavored to give a faithful and honest rendering of 
the original ; but, as will be readily admitted, it is in 
some instances necessary to convey the thought, and 
catch and pursue the spirit of the original, rather than 
strictly to follow the words. In some cases liberties had 
to be taken with the text, to make the production suit- 
able to readers not thoroughly acquainted with matters 
which are perfectly familiar to the poet's compatriots. 
With a view to lessen the labor of perusal — if that should 
prove at all burdensome in the translation — the poem, 
which is of one continuous piece in the original, has 
been divided into twelve cantos, under appropriate titles.* 
A few passages of a dozen or more original lines were 
deemed advisable, which will be found duly indicated and 
accounted for in note 14, at the end of the volume. 

^ The French translation mentioned in Mr. Van Campen’s Preface is divided 
into four cantos : “ The Departure ” ; “ Nova-ZemblaJ’ ; “ The Wintering 

Hivernagi) " ; and “ The Return,” 


It may be added that the original poem is written in 
the Dutch heroic metre, the lines being of twelve sylla- 
bles, or six iambic feet, and rhymed in couplets. The 
translator deemed that the English heroic, of ten syl- 
lables, or five iambic feet, would fairly represent the 
Dutch metre, and he adopted blank verse as making 
possible a much more ready and exact rendering of the 
original ; besides, in long poems, the couplet of Pope 
becomes exceedingly monotonous. 

Finally, the translator wishes to state that his aim all 
along has been to eliminate as much as possible the air 
of a translation from his production. He has sought to 
present the Dutch original not only in an English dress 
(which seems to have been the simple and unpretending 
desire of his anonymous predecessor, referred to in the 
Preface), but he has endeavored as far as possible to make 
an English poem of it. This may have been an attempt 
too hazardous, and an aim too ambitious. But if he has 
succeeded to any extent, it is humbly believed that this 
will have secured the higher and more essential fidelity 
to the original. 

D. V. P. 


T hat man should wish to inform himself concern- 
ing every portion of the globe whereon he dwells is 
natural ; but these grim northern climes, hidden in snow, 
barred against intrusion by their frozen seas, seem to have 
had a strange fascination for him during the last three 
centuries. Until within a comparatively recent period, 
however, the objects which have prompted men to Arctic 
discovery were almost exclusively based on self-interest, 
or, in other words, were merely incidental in their char- 
acter. The hope of shortening the passage to Far 
Cathay ” by sailing to the Northwest or to the North- 
east has induced by far the greater number of Arctic 
expeditions ; and the story of these attempts would, in 
fact — at least until within the last forty years, — consti- 
tute the real history of Arctic exploration. 

It was with this aim that the three Northern voyages 
of the Dutch were undertaken toward the end of the • 
sixteenth century, one of which forms the theme of the 
following poem. These voyages are deservedly ranked 




among the most remarkable exploits of that enterprising 
nation ; and the ten months* residence of the adventu- 
rous seamen, in the course of the third voyage, at the 
farthest extremity of the inhospitable region of Nova 
Zembla, within fourteen degrees of the North Pole, and 
their homeward journey of upward of seventeen hundred 
geographical miles in two small open boats, are events 
full of romantic interest. 

Although these essays to shorten the passage to India 
by sailing North involve incidentally almost the whole 
work of Holland in the Arctic field, yet in this com- 
mendable but futile struggle to force a passage to the 
East by the northward England has borne a conspicuous 
part above that of any other country, and as hers was 
the earliest work, it is impossible not to give it a passing 
mention in this prefatory survey. Almost from the hour 
when Columbus promised a way to the East “by the 
West ** England tenaciously held to the possibility of 
finding a navigable passage in that direction. Nor this 
only. She willingly employed in the great quest men of 
foreign birth, for the Venetian Cabots, sailing from Bris- 
tol, were the first to attempt a Northwest passage, unless 
we except the rather indefinite essay of Columbus, made 
only a little earlier. 

Englishmen, it is true,, have sought to reach this goal 



of early mercantile endeavor by sailing to the northeast 
Indeed, some time before Holland awoke to commercial 
rivalry with England, Sebastian Cabot himself — ^pen- 
sioned and appointed “ Grand Pilot ” of England after 
1548, in recognition of his great services to his adopted 
country — ^brought about the despatch of Sir Hugh Wil- 
loughby and Richard Chancellor on the first voyage ever 
projected to discover a Northeast passage ; and the same 
venerable seaman cheered brave Stephen Burrough 
when, three years later, he sailed on his Northeastern 
voyage of discovery for the Muscovy Company of Lon- 
don, which resulted in the partial exploration of Nova 
Zembla and the contiguous coasts and islands ; while 
Pet and Jackman, sailing from Harwich in 158e, for the 
same company, made a voyage with a like object. Be- 
ginning with the expedition of Willoughby in 1553, and 
ending with the essay of Captain John Woodj in 1676, 
to discover a passage to India by the Northeast — 
the latter mainly prompted by the signal hopes which 
the intervening Dutch Northern voyages had inspired, 
— the long series of attempts by that course, undertaken 
with purely commercial aims, practically ceased. Yet it 
» is a noteworthy fact, as applicable to Holland, that brave 
Henry Hudson, nearly two hundred and eighty years 
ago, in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, 


made the attempt to reach the long-sought goal of 
Cathay by pushing his way through the ice-clogged 
waters round Nova Zembla, but, abandoning that en- 
terprise, turned his bark southward, and founded in the 
New World another Netherland, upon which arose a 
second Amsterdam. 

If, however, the Dutch were not the first in the field of 
Arctic exploration, it should be remembered that, at the 
time the English were pushing their way Poleward, in 
the first attempts to find some new route to the far East, 
the Netherlanders had graver business before them. 
When, for instance, Sebastian Cabot was cruising along 
the American coast, going as far north as latitude 67° 
30', and as far south as the peninsula of Florida, “ ever 
with intent,” Hakluyt makes him say, “ to find the said 
passage to India,” the sun of maritime and commercial 
prosperity had not risen over Holland, and the opulent 
manufacturing Flemings did not greatly push their en- 
terprises seaward. .The intolerable tyranny of the brutal 
Alva, with the consequent transference of the wealth of 
Bruges and of Antwerp to the banks of the Y and the 
shores of the Zuyder Zee — in other words, the utter im- 
poverishment of the submissive South at the same time 
that the North threw off the yoke and emerged with 
profit from the conflict — all this was necessary to the 


development of the maritime greatness of the Dutch 

Again, in the middle of the sixteenth century, when 
the Merchant Adventurers of London were essaying the 
inauguration of direct intercourse with Muscovy, via the 
Sea of Kara, and sending out the expeditions of Wil- 
loughby and Chancellor, and of stout Stephen Burrough, 
the Netherlands, with the rest of a magnificent inherit- 
ance, were actually passing out of the hands of Charles 
V. into those of reckless and sanguinary Philip ; and 
about the time of the northern voyages of Sir Martin 
Frobisher, John Davis, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and other 
Elizabethan navigators, the city of Enkhuyzen, destined 
ere long to lead the way, with Middleburg, in Dutch 
Arctic enterprise, had just raised the standard of Nether- 
land liberty and, with Hoorn, had captured on the Zuyder 
Zee the sword of Bossu. 

But out of the supreme struggle arose a nation. Hol- 
land, toward the close of the century, was ready to 
engage herself in ocean work, and to compete with her 
former oppressor for the rich traffic of the East by the 
way of t}ie North Pole or any route whatever. How- 
' ever, it may be mentioned in this immediate connection, 
that at the very conjuncture of the voyages of Barents, 
in which Holland was to prepare a Heemskerck by means 


of Arctic service to battle to the death in Spanish waters 
with the enemy of her people — as England, two centuries 
later, was to fit a Nelson to efface both France and Spain 
for generations from the ranks of maritime powers off 
Cape Trafalgar; demonstrating thus in what way Arctic 
voyaging may conduce to the formation of a true naval 
character — the Dutch nation, not withholding their hands 
from other enterprises, were able to lend material aid to 
Queen Elizabeth in one of her expeditions against Spain, 
following up the destruction of the Grand Armada. 

But to state the condition of the Netherlands a little 
more in detail at the particular period in question : The 
United Provinces, with Holland at their head, were still 
in the midst of their conflict with Philip II., the head of 
the Catholic world, as William of Orange was the con- 
ceded head of the Protestant world. Elizabeth, who may 
be said to have succeeded William in this great office after 
his assassination, — and as if to render the services of 
Holland to which we have alluded above but the recipro- 
cation of her own ten years before — lent to the Dutch 
cause the Earl of Leicester, and* the brilliant hero Sir 
Philip Sidney, no less great as a man than as a courtier 
and scholar, and the latter consecrated it with his blood 
as William had done by martyrdom. Employing re- 
sources such as no other prince of the time possessed, 



supported by the greatest captains of the age, and aided 
by the religious fanaticism of his subjects, Philip II. was 
nevertheless unable to maintain his hold over the Dutch 
provinces, which sought to render their land independent 
of Spain as they had formerly freed it from the sea. 

The armies of the little Republic were now led by 
Maurice, Prince of Orange, son of the martyred William 
I. The military genius of this young patriot-prince, 
aided by the political sagacity of the sage, Jotn van 
Olden Bameveld, made him, in spite of his limited re- 
sources, more than a match for the overwhelming hosts 
of Spain. The incredible swiftness of his marches, the 
irresistible science of his methods in conducting sieges, 
enabled him to wrest from the enemy in quick succession 
a number of strong and important towns ; and by these 
marvellous operations — being victorious in no less than 
seventeen campaigns — Maurice became the admiration 
of all Europe. 

Elated though they were by these numerous successes, 
the woes of warfare weighed with galling effect upon the 
liberty-loving race and their devoted land : for the 
Eighty Years' War was not yet half over. But the self- 
sacrifice and patriotism which had given birth to the 
Dutch Republic cannot be said to have been without 
reward ; nor did Netherlanders begrudge the cost. Surely 



in these patriots we cannot but recognize our next of 
kin — for are we not the heirs of the bold thoughts which 
they were the first to thunder into the ears of monarch- 
ical Europe, as well by the mouths of their cannon as by 
the eloquence of their statesmen ; and the liberties which 
they purchased with their blood have been transmitted 
to us, either directly or through English forefathers 
who studied the lessons of independence in their school. 

Even in the darkest hours of this long war, the final 
issue of the conflict — waged thus between the bold spirit 
and fresh life of liberal ideas and free institutions and 
the growing decrepitude of superstition and despotism 
from which Europe was awakening — was seen to be 
inevitable. In the very midst of war, with the country's 
resources strained to the utmost for the maintenance of 
the patriotic struggle, Europe beheld with amazement 
that Holland was taking her place, and a foremost place, 
among the commercial and maritime powers of the earth. 
Her ships had traversed, or were traversing every known 
and unknown sea. The bold Van Noord, equalling Da 
Gama's feat of opening up a way round the stormy Cape 
of Good Hope, sailed through the Straits of Magellan 
and made the second circuit of the globe. Pushing their 
adventurous crafts past the coasts of Spain, eluding or 
defeating her ponderous fleets, Dutch mariners seized 



upon her far-off Spice islands, east and west, or discov- 
ered and appropriated other tropic isles on which Span- 
iard or Portuguese had never set foot. 

In the train of this ever restless and invincible activity 
and enterprise, followed attempts at exploration in the 
Arctic zone. It was believed by the Dutch cosmogra- 
phers that a good ten thousand miles of voyaging — not 
to speak of danger from interference of rivals — might be 
saved could the passage to India be effected by the way 
of the north ; nor were Hollanders prepared to believe 
that the possibilities of a Northeast passage had been 
tested in any true sense by the quickly-abandoned 
efforts of the English in that direction after failing to 
find a route by the Northwest. Accordingly, in the year 
1593, there was projected by the Dutch the first of “three 
voyages so strange and woonderful that the like hath neur 
been heard of before.” * 

It is impossible not to give some account of the first 
and second of these three voyages, notwithstanding the 
fact that the poem finds its incidents almost wholly in the 
third, since the names of the chief participants are asso- 
ciated with them all, and since the third voyage was but 
the natural corollary of the two previous ones. En- 
gaged in the first undertaking, therefore, were the three 

> Phillip's translation of De Veer (1609) ; title-page. 


westerly provinces of the country ; but the towns of 
Enkhuyzen in the north and Middleburg in the south 
were the prime movers in the enterprise. Enkhuyzen 
was represented by the syndic of West Friesland and 
pensionary of the town, Dr. Francis Maalson, and John 
Huygen van Linschoten, a native of Haarlem, but resi- 
dent during the greater part of his youth, and in later 
life, at Enkhuyzen, and who, by his travels and writings, 
had done much to inspire his countrymen to compete 
for the lucrative commerce which had hitherto been 
engrossed by Spain ; while Middleburg had for its 
moving spirit in this enterprise the eminent Zealand mer- 
chant, Balthasar de Moucheron — prompted by the experi- 
enced White-Sea trader, Olivier Brunei, to whom and to 
Moucheron, more than any others, the conception of this 
undertaking was due ; Moucheron, moreover, enlisting 
the cooperation of other merchants of the province. 
The necessary permission of the State authorities was 
obtained, while the enterprise had the willing assistance 
of the Courts of the Admiralty of the two provinces, who 
provided for half of the expense, with instructions to 
attempt the passage into the Sea of Tartary through the 
Waigats between Nova Zembla and Russia. 

Two vessels, of about one hundred tons each, were 
fitted out and provisioned for eight months. These were 



the “Swan” of Ter Veer, in Zealand, under command of 
Cornelius Comeliuszoon Nai, a burgher of Enkhuyzen, 
and the “ Mercurius ” of Enkhuyzen, under command of 
Brant Ybrantzoon, otherwise Brant Tetgales, a skilful 
and experienced seaman, with Nicholas Comeliuszoon 
as his mate ; while the accomplished Linschoten was 
supercargo of the latter ship, and engaged likewise as 
journalist of the voyage. 

But the merchants of Amsterdam, catching the spirit 
of the Middleburgers and Enkhuyzeners, desired to par- 
ticipate in the enterprise, or rather in their own way to 
cooperate for the same general end, by sending out a 
ship. Most influential in enlisting this city had been the 
efforts of Petrus Plancius, a Flemish refugee and Calvin- 
ist divine, a devoted lover ot the sciences, and especially 
well known for his cosmographic and astronomic lore. 
Plancius prevailed upon the leading merchants of Am- 
sterdam to unite, with the active aid of the Admiralty, 
in the expedition. A third vessel was accordingly fitted 
out by Amsterdam, of the same size and character as the 
other two, and, like Tetgales', was named the “Mercu- 
rius,” its command being entrusted to William Barents, 
a burgher of Amsterdam, “ a notable, skilfull, and wise 
pilote,” who took with him also a fishing yacht belong- 
ing to his native place, Ter Schelling. 


On Whitsunday, the 4th June, 1594, the little fleet had 
assembled at the Texel. Cornelius Nai, of the “Swan," 
was named admiral or commodore. An agreement was 
made that the three ships should keep company as far as 
Kildin on the coast of Lapland, when the Enkhuyzen 
and Ter Veer vessels should take the course proposed 
by Maalson by the Waigats ; while that of the Amster- 
damers under Barents, following the advice of the 
learned Plancius, would sail to the north of Nova Zem- 
bla, deeming it probable that to the north would be 
found a more open sea than in the straits, and regard- 
ing that route in every way as far the easier and more 
preferable one. On the following morning the admiral 
set sail, commanding the others to follow. Having 
passed the North Cape, the weather was found as warm 
as in Holland in dog-days, and mosquitoes were exceed- 
ingly troublesome. The island of Waigats was covered 
with verdure, and embellished with every variety of 
beautiful flowers. The idols seen by Burrough and his 
men years before were also seen by the Dutch, to the 
number of three hundred or four hundred. They named 
that part of the island Afgodenhoek, or Idol Point ; and 
the Straits of Waigats, which had been legitimately 
enough baptized with the name of Burrough, these 
faithful Dutchmen, remembering the house to whom 



Holland was so greatly indebted for her liberty and 
glory, hastened to rename the “ Straits of Nassau.” 
While Barents was pushing his sturdy bark even to 
the northernmost point of Nova Zembla, and performing 
the almost miraculous sailing feats which geographers 
have noted, also withstanding immeasurable difficulties, 
the admiral's ship passed the straits we have mentioned, 
pushed its way through the ice into the Sea of Kara, and 
arrived in an open blue sea from which the Russian 
coast, trending toward the northeast, was visible. The 
direction of the coast made them believe that the vessel 
had passed beyond Cape Tabin, designated by Pliny 
(then an uncontested authority) as the northern extrem- 
ity of Asia, and that, therefore, they could from here, by 
a short voyage, reach the eastern and southern parts of 
the continent. It was not known that, beyond the Gulf 
of Obi, Asia still extended for one hundred and twenty 
degrees within the Polar circle. The supposed facts we 
have mentioned, the direction of the coast, and the depth 
and openness of the sea gave our navigators such confi- 
dent hopes of a passage to Cathay being practicable that, 
instead of prosecuting their discoveries, they agreed to 
return to Holland with the happy tidings ; while, too, 
doubts as to their provisions holding out till they could 
reach so distant a country admonished them that this 


course was really expedient. In this politic resolution the 
commander of the southerly squadron was not alone, for 
he soon, to his rejoicing, fell in with the baffled voyagers 
to the “more open sea” of Plancius, who were also 
returning, and the whole fleet sailed to Holland, arriving 
at the Dogger-bank on the 14th September, and dispersing 
from thence to their several ports. 

The principal discoveries which resulted from this 
expedition in particular — much the most important of 
the three as to number of discoveries — have been care- 
fully enumerated by a revered national authority, Nicho- 
las Godfried Van Kampen, who makes the voyages of 
Barents the initiatory theme in his important history of 
the operations of the Dutch without Europe. The 
names, however, of points, capes, straits, and islands, 
upon which then for the first time, so far as we have 
record of observations, the gaze of civilized men rested, 
have been transferred to the thrilling pages of Motley, 
and that historian pertinently asks : “ Where are Cape 
Nassau, William's Island, Admiralty Island, Cape Plan- 
cius, Black-hook, Cross-hook, Ice-hook, Consolation- 
hook, Cape Desire, the Straits of Nassau, Maurice Island, 
Staten Island, Enkhuyzen Island, and many other simi- 
lar appelations ? ” We fear the nations whose represent- 
atives on the seas have placed upon the chart of the 



Nova Zembla and Spitzbergen region the names of 
Cherie Island and Alderman Freeman's Strait (the 
Bear Island and Walter Tymans* Strait of the Dutch), 
Swedish Foreland and Ice Fjord — nay, and Capes Bis- 
mark and Petermann, — may be held mainly answerable 
for this work of cosmographical sacrilegè. But Hol- 
land's recent labors, going to show that she is deter- 
mined to assert her presence in the Arctic seas, may 
do something toward restoring her northern land-marks 
— nay more, by means of new discoveries she may yet 
gratify the yearning of one of her distinguished geogra- 
phers, “ to give to some great unnamed spot in those 
ice-bound regions the designation of ‘ Prins Hendrik's 
Land.' " 

The reports made by Barents and Linschoten as to 
the results of this expedition — the latter keeping with 
the admiral's ship, — differed to a degree not altogether 
creditable to the over-sanguine supercargo. However, 
under the stimulus of Linschoten's narrative, the adven- 
turers who fitted out the former expedition, with others 
who now joined them, determined to despatch in the 
following year a well-appointed fleet. This, moreover, 
assumed the importance of a government expedition, 
having received the sanction and support of the States- 
General, and being projected, not merely with the hope 


of accomplishing the passage to China, which promised 
so fairly, but also with a view to the establishment of an 
advantageous trade with that kingdom and the other 
countries that might be discovered and visited in the 
course of the voyage. 

The fleet consisted of seven ships : two from Enkhuy- 
zen, two from Zeland, two from Amsterdam, and a sort 
of reporting yacht from Rotterdam. The latter was in- 
tended to merely accompany the squadron until it had 
sailed beyond the suppositious Cape Tabin, when it was 
to return with the news to Holland. As connected with 
this expedition we recognize nearly all the names ren- 
dered familiar to us by their association with the former 
voyage. Associated with this Government expedition, 
however, there are three important additions to the offi- 
cial list — namely, the annalist of these voyages, Gerrit 
de Veer; the experienced sea-captain, John Comelisz 
van der Ryp, supercargo of one of the Zeland ships; and 
the future hero of Gibraltar, Jacob van Heemskerck. 
The first of these names, it may be observed, was des- 
tined to gain a fame, if of a somewhat different kind, 
only second, perhaps, to that of the master pilot who 
constitutes the central figure in his quaint and faithful 
picture — certainly a literary celebrity which the frank 
and honest Hollander could never have dreamed of ; 



and the last, whose name is the most conspicuous one in 
the poem of Tollens*, was to prove himself no less indis- 
pensable to the Arctic expeditions he joined than to the 
nation at large in upholding the honor of the Dutch flag 
on the seas, and not less undaunted when “ battling with 
the elements in Nova Zembla** than in his combat 
with the ancient enemy on the Spanish main, ** when he 
dies, Nelson-like, in the arms of his conquering com- 
rades.** * 

On this second voyage Barents went as pilot-major of 
the fleet, and Linschoten and Heemskerck as principal 
supercargoes. Linschoten and De la Dale were further 
appointed as Chief Commissioners on behalf of his Ex- 
cellency Prince Maurice and the States-General, from 
whom they received credentials, signed by the celebrated 
Arsens, of which the following is the confident heading : 
“ Instructions to Jan Huygen van Linschoten and Fran- 
9oys de la Dale, Chief Commissioners, for the regulation 
of their conduct in the kingdom of China, and other 
kingdoms and countries which shall be visited by the 
ships and yachts destined for the voyage round by the 
north, through the Vaigats or Strait of Nassau.** 

This great expedition, however, merely sailed to the 
entrance of the Sea of Kara and back again, finding the 

* N. G. Van Kampen : “ Vaderlandsche Karakterkunde ; of Karakterschetsen 
van Tydperken en Personen, uit de Nederlandsche Geschiedenis,” enz. II., p. 87. 


Straits of Waigats all encumbered with ice and a 
passage through impossible. And the only marvel 
connected with it is what the historian of the United 
Netherlands calls the ^‘sublime credulity** which ac- 
cepted Linschoten’s hasty solution of the polar enigma, 
and made it conclusive with his countrymen ; while pro- 
ceeding so deliberately in lading their ships with broad- 
cloths, linens, and tapestries for the anticipated China 
trade, as to lose nearly half the summer before weighing 
anchor in Maas Diep on the morning of Sunday, July 2, 
1595. Yet this very ease of flattering self-persuasion 
was not a trait peculiar to the Hollanders, as the reader 
may be reminded by a passage in Froude's essay on 
“ England’s Forgotten Worthies.” “ There was no 
nation so remote,” observes this acute living writer, but 
what some one or other was found ready to undertake 
an expedition there, in the hope of opening a trade ; and, 
let them go where they would, they were sure of Eliza- 
beth’s countenance. We find letters written by her, for 
the benefit of nameless adventurers,” in the same era 
which marks the stupendous faith of the Dutch naviga- 
tors, to every potentate of whom she had ever heard — 
to the Emperor of China, Japan, and India, the Persian 
‘ Sofee,’ and other unheard of Asiatic and African prin- 
ces ; whatever was to be done in England, or by English- 



men, Elizabeth assisted when she could, and admired 
when she could not.” 

The Netherlanders did, however, effect a landing on 
the coast of Tartary, and such geographical information 
as could be derived from such a source was imparted to 
the confident voyagers by wandering Samoyedes. They 
also had some startling with bears,, and when 

twenty valiant Dutchmen fail to overcome one single 
ferocious inhabitant of those wilds (two of their fellows 
meanwhile being eaten alive), these Arctic explorers 
knew how to reinforce their numbers (by ten additional 
men) and compass his destruction. And the practical 
summing of the results of this expedition by Van Kampen 
is, that they “ bore his skin in triumph to Amsterdam.” 

Nothing more humiliating could have happened than 
the way this promising if somewhat pretentious expedi- 
tion turned out to discourage polar voyaging on the part 
of the Dutch ; and it did have the effect to cause the 
Government to withdraw, with this single attempt, from 
Arctic enterprise. The States-General, however, closed 
worthily the public record in this respect by offering a 
reward of 25,000 florins to any navigator who should ac- 
complish the voyage to China by the desired route, and 
a proportionate sum to those whose efforts might be 
deemed commendable, even though not crowned with 



Yet, with respect to this expedition, it is but just to 
say that these worthy Hollanders did not return without 
putting on record a memorable protest, which shows 
that they did not lightly estimate the responsibilities im- 
posed upon them as servants of the Republic, nor wil- 
lingly relinquish their hopes of reaching their intended 
goal. It speaks well for the conscious purity of motive 
and integrity of conduct which marked the enterprises 
of the Netherlanders in those days, when men could thus 
express themselves : ‘‘ The Admirals, Captains, and 
Pilots, consulting together as to what is best and most 
advantageous to be done and undertaken in respect to 
the voyage which they have commenced round by the 
North toward China, Japan, etc. ; and they having ma- 
turely and most earnestly considered and examined the 
subject, and also desiring strictly to carry out, as far as 
is practicable and possible, the instructions of His Ex- 
cellency and the Lords the States, for the welfare and 
preservation of the ships, their crews, and merchandise. 
It is found that they have all of them hitherto done their 
utmost duty and their best, with all zeal and diligence, 
not fearing to hazard and sometimes to put in peril the 
ships and their own persons (whenever need required it) 
in order to preserve their honor in every thing, and so as 
to be able with a clear conscience to answer for the same 



to God and the whole world. But inasmuch as it has 
pleased the Lord God not to permit it on the present voy- 
age, they find themselves most unwillingly compelled, 
because of the time that has elapsed, to discontinue the 
same navigation for this time. ♦ ♦ ♦ Protest- 

ing before God and the whole world, that they have 
acted in this matter as they wisl\ God may act in the 
salvation of their souls, and as they hope and trust can- 
not be contradicted by any of those who have accompa- 
nied them,** etc. It is clear, however, that Barents did 
not himself cheerfully sign even this paper, but rather 
desired to go on. 

Baron Nordenskiöld, however, comes to the defence of 
the Dutch voyagers in the following positive language : 
“ While this expedition did not yield any new contribu- 
tion to the knowledge of our globe, it deserves to be 
noted that we can state with certainty, with the knowl- 
edge we now possess of the ice-conditions of the Kara 
Sea, that the Dutch, during both their first and second 
voyages, had the way open to the Obi and Yenisei. If 
they had availed themselves of this, and continued their 
voyage till they came to inhabited regions on either of 
these rivers, a considerable commerce would certainly 
have arisen between Middle Asia and Europe by this route 
as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century.** * 

* “ The Voyage of the * Vega,* ** vol. II., pp. 244, 245. 



Happily for the credit of Dutch pertinacity, there still 
existed a faithful few, like Barents, Plancius, and Heem- 
skerck, who adhered firmly to the conviction that spirited 
enterprise, persevered in, would speedily be crowned 
with, success. Moreover, the Government itself, as we 
have seen, unwilling altogether to relinquish the hope of 
yet achieving a passage, and aware of the benefits that 
must accrue to the State from fostering a maritime spirit 
among the people by distant voyaging, offered a specific 
and liberal reward to such persons as should accomplish 
the desired end. 

We now come to the enterprise which furnishes the 
main incidents of the poem. The merchants of Am- 
sterdam were thus encouraged to organize, early in 
the year 1596, a third expedition. It consisted of only 
two vessels, the names and tonnage of which are not 
cited. Jacob van Heemskerck — “ the man who ever 
steered his way through ice or iron ” (according to his 
epitaph) — was again supercargo and nominal commander 
of one of the vessels ; William Barents being chief pilot 
of the same ship, and John Cornelisz van der Ryp cap- 
tain and superintendent of the other. With Heemskerck 
and Barents sailed also Gerrit de Veer. Select crews, as 
far as possible of unmarried men, were secured for the 
enterprise, and the expedition was thus got in order for 
despatch, through which — 



** Holland’s flag shall show the dangerous way 
To wondering Europe.” 

One lesson was learned from the previous expedition, 
which admonished them not to delay their departure till 
too late. These two vessels got away in good season ; 
for, as early as the 5 th of May, the men of both ships 
were mustered, and on the loth they sailed from Amster- 
dam, reaching the Vlie at the island of Texel on the 
13th. The 1 6th they set sail out of the Vlie, but the 
unfavorable state of the tide and a strong northeast wind 
compelled them to put back again, when Ryp’s ship ran 
aground on a treacherous bar. This furnished ominous 
misgivings enough for the outset of an enterprise of this 
kind ; but the delay, if vexatious, was not for long, and 
on the x8th the ships successfully put out again to sea, 
sailing northwest. On the 22d May they sighted Fair 
Island, between the Orkney and Shetland Isles. Sailing 
now to the northeast, they made the first use, according 
to De Veer, of “ our cross-staffe,” by which they took 
the sun*s zenith distance, and also put on record for the 
first time their latitude, showing them to be in 69® 24' N. 

On the I St June the voyagers reached so high a lati- 
tude that they had no night ; on the 4th, sailing still 
northeast, “and when,** to quote the narrative, “the 
sunne was about south southeast, past 9 a. M.,-we saw 


a wonderful phenomenon in the heavens : for on each 
side of the sunne there was another sunne, and two rain- 
bows more, passing at a distance round about the sunnes, 
right through the great circle ; the great circle standing 
with its lower edge elevated above the horizon 28 de- 
grees. At noon, the sunne being at the highest, the 
height thereof was measured, and we found by the as- 
trolabium that it was elevated above the horizon 48 de- 
grees and 43 minutes ; his declination was 22 degrees 
and 17 minutes, the which being added to 48 degrees 
43 minutes, it was found that we were under 71 de- 
grees of the height of the Pole.” 

With a minuteness of narration fairly illustrated by the 
passage quoted above, the worthy chronicler takes us 
through some two* hundred closely-printed octavo pages 
in the translation, when relating the adventures, perilous 
or otherwise, of the next seventeen months. But he dwells 
with little more particularity on the death of Barents than 
when noting an observation of the sun, or, perchance, re- 
counting many a trivial incident which, however, only goes 
to show the faithfulness of the narrative.* 

* It may be here observed that William Phillip’s translation of De Veer (first pub- 
lished in X609), which even adds quaintness to the ancient Dutch, would be many 
times very misleading had it not itself been translated, so to speak, in the learned 
and pains-taking edition of Dr. Charles T. Beke. Dr. Beke’s edition, with an ex- 
tended introduction by the learned editor, but besides this whose labors are evident 
on every page, was first published in 1853, ^7 Hakluyt Society, while a second 



At this point, when, as De Veer states, they “ had the 
North Cape in sight,” though some two hundred and 
forty miles to the seaward, a diversity of opinions arose 
as to the route best to be taken. Eventually the course 
to which Barents inclined, and which had the recom- 
mendation of Plancius, was chosen, the special concern 
of both Barents and Ryp being to keep clear of the fatal, 
ice-clogged Straits of Waigats. Though this was accom- 
plished, the chief pilot, “ not being able with many hard 
words ” to avoid doing so, yielded to the suasion of Ryp 
so far as to take a course more directly to the north 
than he had himself designed. This brought them pres- 
ently upon numerous icebergs, first seen on June 5th, 
and taken for the moment for immense flocks of “ white 
swannes ” swimming toward the ship. Not so harmless 
an illusion did this prove to be, as the experience of the 
next four days in particular attested. But they managed 
to elude the constantly threatening danger, guiding their 
ship in safety amid the moving pack. In latitude 70° 
they “found so great store of ice that it was admirable”; 
it was as if they had passed “ betweene two lands,” the 

edition of the same, giving also an introduction by Lieut Koolemans Beynen, sup- 
plying some results of later researches, was published in 1876 ; and the Hakluyt 
Society deserve the thanks of English readers for having given to the lettered 
communities of Europe and America this elaborate and valuable work on these 
celebrated voyages. For the loan of a copy of the latter edition, moreover, from 
the well-stocked library of the American Geographical Society, the writer desires 
to express his sincere obligations to the courteous Librarian of that Society. 


water being “greene as grasse,” which led our naviga- 
tors now to think that they were near Greenland. 

On the 9th June, in latitude 74® 30' N., they came to 
a small island, which they thought to be about twenty 
miles in circumference, and which presented to view 
nothing but steep, pointed cliffs. To this they gave the 
name of Bear Island — so baptized from their contest of 
two hours* duration with a huge polar bear, the success- 
ful killing and flaying of which rendered it an event 
worthy, perhaps, of being thus signalized. In the neigh- 
borhood of this island they spent four days and made 
two landings. 

Leaving Bear Island on the 13th the two ships bore 
northerly, with some easting ; on the i8th land was 
sighted again, and on the 19th June the navigators 
reached, according to their reckoning, latitude '80° 
ii' N., where they perceived the land to be “very 
great.** Barred against further passage northward, as 
it would seem, they now sailed “ westward along by it ** 
till they were under 79°, and here, on the longest day of 
the year, they cast anchor. To this newly .discovered 
land, whose jagged and precipitous peaks are clad in 
eternal snows, where intensest winter holds almost per- 
petual reign, and the sun is hidden for four months of 
the year beneath the horizon, they subsequently gave 
the appropriate and vernacular name of Spitzbergen. 



In regard to the latitude 80® ii' noted above, some 
doubts have been expressed as to the accuracy of the 
calculation ; Professor Moll, in particular, an eminent 
national authority of fifty years ago, doubting it, owing, 
as he considers, to the defective nature of the instru- 
ments employed. Dr. Beke, however, shows it to be 
rather an error in reckoning (here and in some other 
instances), placing the navigators himself in latitude 
79® 49' N., while commending Barents generally for his 
extraordinary accuracy. In any event, this was not only 
the now universally conceded discovery of Spitzbergen, 
but it was- the highest latitude, so far as known, attained 
down to that time by civilized men.* 

Along this land they coasted until the 29th June, 
making numerous discoveries and occasional landings. 
They were perplexed at certain features of the island, 
lying thus several degrees north of - Nova Zembla, yet 
revealing animals associated with the presence of vege- 
tation; while in Nova Zembla they had found on the 
first voyage a country so totally bald and barren. 
Here in this new land were existing in harmonious 
companionship numerous deer and reindeer, white 

^ Hessel Gerritsz, in his Histoire du Pays^ nommé Spitsbergen ” (1613), 
assnmes to give a portion of the log of Barents. In this “ log ” the date on 
which the highest latitude was attained is put down as June 17th, but the latitude 
is given as 80** zo' N., which bears out, practically, De Veer’s statement in this 


bears, walruses, and seals. Rowing up a wide inlet, 
they came upon great numbers of wild geese sitting 
on their eggs, which they found to be the same geese, 
we are told, that were in the habit of visiting Hol- 
land every summer, but until now it had not been 
discovered where they laid and hatched their eggs. 
The high latitude gave them, day and night, the sun, 
whose oblique rays, however, were insufficient to convey 
warmth to the ever-frozen ground, so that the presence 
of so many deer merited remark. But the sea was only 
richer in living creatures than the land ; nowhere else, 
indeed, did the cetacean tribe or seals and walruses at- 
tain such an enormous size ; and the abundance of those 
creatures in the Spitzbergen waters afforded, years after- 
ward, a source of no little controversy between the Dutch 
and English fishermen. 

They were now on the west coast of the island ; with 
a view of extricating themselves from the ice which was 
rapidly closing about them, the vessels were steered 
southward from Spitzbergen toward Bear Island, which 
was reached again on the ist of July. Here Ryp sepa- 
rated from Heemskerck and Barents, asserting his deter- 
mination to sail northward ‘‘ beyond the 8oth parallel," 
for “ hee was of opinion," says De Veer, “ that there hee 
should find a passage through.” Barents, meanwhile, as 



Stoutly maintained that the coveted passage must lie to 
the east of Spitzbergen and north of Nova Zembla, and 
accordingly sailed in that direction — or, as De Veer says, 

they sayling northward and wee southward, because of 
the ice, the wind being east south-east ; thus showing 
withal that, on parting company with Ryp, the diarist of 
these voyages could henceforth record only what took 
place with the Barents and Heemskerck ship. 

Bidding adieu to Ryp, it may be observed that opin- 
ions are at variance as to whether that captain steered 
along the west, or went north along the east, coast ; but 
the result of the latest researches would lead to the con- 
clusion that he returned to about the point in 8o° N. 
latitude, where he and Barents had been together. Dr. 
Beke's opinion, also, ‘^that nothing worthy of remark 
can have occurred to him, or otherwise it could not have 
failed to be recorded,*' seems to be fully borne out by 
♦ the latest investigation. We may therefore conclude 
that he found further passage interrupted by that ice- 
barrier now known to yearly obstruct the sea north of 
Spitzbergen, and so giving up the search returned to 

Though, no doubt, Ryp's and Barents* parties were 
equally anxious to make the discovery, it may be said 
that, by separating, they stood a better chance of realiz- 


ing the object of the expedition, though increasing, per- 
haps, the individual peril. Barents lost no time in pro- 
ceeding to follow out his theory ; but the somewhat ir- 
regular course he was forced to make, brought him, on 
the 17th July, instead of north of Nova Zembla, against 
the northwest coast, in latitude 74° 40'. Here, abruptly 
turning the prow of his sturdy vessel northward, he fol- 
lowed along the coast, groping his way amid icebergs 
and detained by fogs. On the 19th July, ice and wind 
opposed his further progress ; in all directions the sea was 
covered as with floating mountains. At length, the ice 
having opened so as to allow of a little progress being 
made, they had been able to reach Cross Island, where they 
were forced to come to anchor. On this spot during the 
first voyage had been erected two high wooden crosses, 
with triple bars, as sacred emblems of their faith, where- 
from they had baptized the dreary islet with that appro- 
priate name. Next day, anchoring under the island as 
near as they could get, they put out a boat, manned by 
eight of their fellows. Proceeding to one of the crosses 
they rested a while, and then sought to visit the other, — 
when lo ! two hoary worshippers are there, and, rearing, 
stand erect as if to defend themselves and the cross 
against these new intruders. “We had little desire to 
laugh,** says De Veer, “and in all haste went to our 



boate again.” But Skipper Heemskerck forbade a too 
precipitate retreat, saying this would be death to all* 
‘‘ The first man who shall runne away, I will thrust this 
boat-hook into his hide,” said the future hero of Gib- 
raltar. But the adventure, after all, proved a harmless 
one, and they soon “ had the lysure to tell their fellows 

On the 2ist July they took the sun, finding their lati- 
tude to be 76° 15' N., and the variations of the compass 
26 degrees ; next day, say these Dutch pilgrims to the 
Arctic, “ we set up another cross and made our marks 
thereon.” They were now freed from the ice, at least 
temporarily, and on the 6th August weathered Cape 
Nassau, gradually making their way northward, hugging 
the land in order the better to shun the ice. Next day 
they reached Cape Consolation (Troosfrhoek), “which,” 
says the narrator, “we had much longed for.” 

Again were they beset by icebergs, which towered 
above them in threatening forms like tottering pinnacles, 
—some grounded and stationary, some drifting fearfully 
and endangering the ship. On the loth they made fast 
to one of these which was aground ; but in the evening, 
just as they had eaten their supper, there were heard 
horrible and ominous sounds, when with one grand crash 
the vast iceberg burst into innumerable fragments. For 


days they were encountering these dangers and obstacles, 
tossing about in mist alternating with blinding snow- 
storms, running the gauntlet of icebergs shooting their 
sharp cones heavenward like turreted wall or cathedral 
spire. However, a little progress was made withal, and 
on the 13th July, under almost the northernmost point 
of Nova Zembla, they anchored again to a floating block 
of ice off a point which they named Little Ice Cape, — 


Great Ice Cape being reached and rounded the following 

This was familiar ground to Barents from the discov- 
eries of the first voyage, and he and his companions had 
been anticipating the arrival here anxiously and hope- 
fully. They looked upon it as signifying, they trusted, in 
a double sense, a turning-point in their perilous journey, 
which hitherto had been but one continued battle with 
polar conditions ; yet, whether bears or icebergs, these 
were now becoming familiar to them. They thought, 
having reached the extremity of the island, that the 
passage would now be less obstructed, and indeed that 
open water would soon greet their vision. They had 
never heard of the Gulf Stream, so could have formed 
no fanciful theory of sailing poleward or to India in 
the current of this warm ocean river which courses 
with mighty force round Nova Zembla. But Barents 



was possessed with an intuitive feeling — a belief amount- 
ing almost to a religion — that a passage existed, and 
that he had only to persevere with true Dutch determi- 
nation to find it. Unfortunately, the dissolving influ- 
ences of this mighty current are unable to cope with the 
formidable ice masses which are ever succeeding one 
another in this frozen region, and hence its melting 
power is overcome, so that our mariners were rather en- 
dangered than benefited by the presence of this mysteri- 
ous stream. 

The experiences of the next two days — the 15th and 
1 6th August — alone marked almost epochs in this event- 
ful voyage. On the former they reached the Island of 
Orange, a precious landmark with these devoted Hol- 
landers, as the name with which Barents had previously 
christened it would indicate. But on his part it awoke 
memories of a peculiar kind and not unmixed with dis- 
appointment, as it recalled the visit of two years before ; 
for it was from this point, states Gerrit de Veer, that, 
after he [Barents] had taken all that paine, and finding 
that he could hardly get through to accomplish and ende 
his intended voyage, his men also beginning to bee weary 
and would saile no further, they all together agreed to 
retume back again.*’ But more than this. They were 
here so inclosed by vast drifting masses of ice that they 


were in imminent danger of losing their ship, and it was 
only after the greatest labor and care that they actually 
reached the island, — encountering here, too, the omni- 
present bear, which engages them in an amusing contest. 

From their ice-anchorage off this island it was pro- 
posed, on the second day, to spy out the country, seeing 
that they were now on the extreme northern verge of 
Nova Zembla, and a party of ten men rowed to the 
firm land.” Here climbing to the top of a high hill they 
found the land extending far southeast and south, and 
though not wholly gratified at the fact of its extending 
so far southward, yet when they perceived a little more 
to the east open water ” as far as the eye could reach, 
they “ were much comforted again, thinking ” says De 
Veer, that wee had woon our voyage, and knew not 
how wee should get soon enough on boord to certifie 
William Barents thereof.” 

But this gratifying illusion was destined soon to be 
dispelled. Alas ! the passage to Cathay was far from 
being discovered yet ; nor would it disclose itself to men 
of Maurice's time, if ever a poleward route to the far 
East would in reality be found. Herculean efforts were 
made to reach the open sea which presaged such speedy 
success to our struggling navigators. But untold obstacles 
baffled them at every point. The “mighty current of 



the streame,” which they had now come to recognize, 
drove the ice violently down against the ship, threatening 
them with the loss of anchor and cables ; but they thank 
God for another deliverance and take new courage. On 
the 19th of August they passed the Cape of Desire — 
“ whereby they were once again in good hope.*' This 
proved, however, to be not well grounded, for they had 
not sailed far before they were forced back again by the 
ice, and for the moment held prisoners near the cape so 
significantly named. 

On the 2 1 St August they “sailed" says Gerrit De 
Veer, “ a great way into the Ice Haven, and that night 
ankered therein." But they little thought that this would 
prove so ill-fated a harbor, and that strive as they would, 
they were destined to a long and dreary imprisonment 
therein. Next day they were encouraged by the stream 
and the movement of the ice to push out again in their 
effort to reach the open sea or find a passage. This was 
another vain attempt. On the 23d they were forced back 
by the contrary current to Ice Haven, again barely 
escaping shipwreck, and but to encounter in that horrible 
open harbor a tempestuous gale which there overtook 
them. The ice towered in mountains about them, and 
their boat was broken in pieces between the ship and the 
floating masses. 


By the 25th August the high hopes of a few days before 
had entirely vanished. • Having sailed by Nova Zembla 
and found no passage by which they could hope to reach 
their intended goal, they thought to turn back ; besides 
in those regions the summer was already at an end. But 
instead of returning the way they had come, they 
thought to effect their retreat by sailing southward and 
westward, and so through the Straits of Waigat’s home. 
Retreat in this direction was in vain. Hardly had they 
got out of Ice Haven — “where” to quote De Veer's 
words, “ they were forced, in great cold, poverty, misery, 
and grief to stay all that winter ” — when they were again 
barred by the impenetrable pack against any passage 
southward and forced to return. Fertile in resource and 
still undaunted, these Hollanders now (August 26th) 
determined to sail back to Cape Desire, to round Nova 
Zembla on the north, and thus retreat by a route already 
familiar to their pilot. But alas ! here too were they 
baffled. When they had barely got past the luckless 
harbor, sailing the other way, the ice impelled by the 
resistless current, drove down in fearful force upon the 
ship, so that they were completely encompassed by it, 
finding it impossible to move either forward or back- 
ward. Three of their men barely escaped with their 
lives in the fruitless endeavor of making a way for the 



ship among the floes, the block of ice upon which they 
were standing in their efforts happening for the moment 
to separate from it. But they were fortunately rescued 
and for this deliverance thanks went up again from pious 

Thus had they become imprisoned, lost in an Arctic 
solitude, surrounded by dense fogs, almost without hope, 
not knowing whither to turn, and every moment in im- 
minent danger of being crushed under the mountains of 
ice that groaned and thundered about the ship. This, 
too, behaved like a very thing of life. “ During the re- 
maining days of August,” says Mr. Motley, “ the ship 
struggled almost like a living creature with the perils 
that beset her ; now rearing in the air, her bows propped 
upon mighty blocks, till she absolutely sat erect upon 
her stern, now lying prostrate on her side, and anon 
righting again as the ice masses would for a moment 
float away and leave her breathing-space and room to 
move in. A blinding snow-storm was raging the while, 
the ice was cracking and groanitig in all directions, and 
the ship was shrieking, so that the medley of awful sights 
and sounds was beyond the power of language.” 

But the terrible struggle was soon over. By the ist 
September the ship had become hopelessly fast, — at least 
for that year^ if ever the nameless craft would float again. 


With that philosophic resignation, therefore, which ac- 
cepts and prepares to adjust itself to the most desperate 
situations when these are not avoidable, the hapless voy- 
agers calmly set about making preparations against the 
long, daylèss winter so near at hand. 

One only chance of safety remained to them, — to now 
follow mainly the Dutch historian cited early in this 
sketch, — or rather a means of delaying death : they were 
near the coast of Nova Zembla ; they could abandon 
the ship, and attempt to pass the winter in that desolate 
island. It was a desperate resolution, requiring not less 
courage than to remain on board ; but at least they could 
have action, struggle, a new form of danger. After some 
hesitation they left the ship and landed on the island. 

It was uninhabited ; none of the northern races had 
ever set foot upon it ; it was a desert of snow and ice, 
beaten by wind and sea, upon which the sun but rarely 
let fall a fugitive ray, without warmth or cheer. Never- 
theless the poor shipwrecked men sent up a shout of joy 
when their feet touched the land, and knelt down in the 
snow to give thanks to Providence. They set to work 
at once to build a shelter. There was not a tree on the 
island ; but by good fortune they found a quantity of 
floating wood brought by the sea from the continent. 
They went to work, returned to the ship, and brought 



away planks and beams, nails, pitch, boxes, and casks ; 
planted the beams in the ice with all due ceremony, made 
a roof of what had been the deck, hung up their ham- 
mocks, lined the walls with sails, stopped up the holes 
with pitch. But as their work went on they suffered in 
unheard-of ways, and were iii constant danger. The 
cold was so great that when they put nails in their 
mouths they froze there, and could only be taken out by 
tearing the flesh and filling the mouth with blood. 
White bears, wild with hunger, assailed them furiously 
among the ice, around their cabin, even in the interior of 
the ship, and obliged them to leave their labor in order 
to defend their lives. The earth was frozen so hard that 
it had to be broken with a pick like stone. Around the 
vessel the water was frozen to a depth of three and a 
half fathoms. The beer was solid in its casks, and had 
lost all flavor ; and the cold increased daily. 

At last they succeeded in rendering their cabin habit- 
able, and were sheltered from the snow and wind. They 
lighted a fire, which they kept blazing, and were able to 
sleep a few hours at a time when not wakened by the 
howls of the wild beasts that lingered about the cabin. 
They fed their lamps with the fat of the bears, which 
they killed through the cracks of the walls ; they warmed 
their hands in the bleeding bowels ; they made coverings 


of the skins, and they ate foxes, and herrings, and 
biscuits from the ship’s stores. Meantime the cold 
increased. Food and drink were frozen hard even 
when placed close to the fire# The poor sailors burned 
their hands and feet without feeling any heat. 

To all these calamities one more was added. On the 
4th of November they awaited sunrise in vain ; tfee sun 
appeared no more ; the polar night had begun. Then 
these iron men felt their courage fail them ; and Barents, 
concealing his anguish as best he could, had to spend all 
the eloquence that he possessed in persuading them not 
to give way to despair. But the moon at stated periods 
lent her pale radiance day and night, and relieved the 
impenetrable gloom. The bears happily disappeared 
with the sun ; they were replaced by vast numbers of 
white foxes, and these, when entrapped, furnished staple 
materials for both food and raiment. But the cold be- 
came, if possible, more intense, fuel began to grow 
scarcer, and the wood found upon the shore was thrown 
upon the fire with regret. One night — on December 
7 th, — when the wood had become exhausted, having 
brought some sea-coal from the ship, they made a big 
fire ; for once they thought to be comfortable. After 
the fire had become a mass of living embers, to stop out 
the cold they hermetically closed the cabin, chimney 



and crevice, when lo ! they were within a hair's-breadth 
of dying of suffocation. Now were they forced to brave 
once more that awful cold, which, however, in this 
instance became their savior. 

The 19th December brought to the party the consola- 
tion that, at all events, one half of the long night had 
passed, and that awakening day would disclose to their 
eager gaze fresh sources of sustenance, and possibly of 
escape. True to their national characteristics, they ob- 
served with due festivity Twelfth Night, or Three Kings' 
Eve. This periodic interval, consecrated to mirthful 
indolence, was fully honored in the midst of their suf- 
fering. The ice-girt prison which held them as in 
bonds must needs restrain their freedom, at least as long 
as they had been thus far confined ; but this was not 
accepted as a sufficient reason for abstinence from en- 
joyable frolic. Accordingly they drew lots as to which 
of them should wear the crown of Nova Zembla, drank 
to the new sovereign in bumpers of wine — which from 
their scanty store had been reserved for this occasion, — 
tossed the pancake with the prescribed ceremonies, and 
made the barren realm of the snow-monarch ring again 
with the sound of human mirth and jollity. “ We were 
as happy," says Gerrit De Veer, with pathetic simplicity, 
as if we were having a splendid banquet at home. We 


imagined ourselves in our fatherland with all our friends, 
so much did we enjoy our repast.” At other times they 
played cards, told stories, gave toasts to the glory of 
Maurice, and talked about their families. Every day 
they sang psalms together, kneeling on the ice, their 
faces lifted to the stars. Sometimes the aurora borealis 
broke the great darkness which surrounded them, and 
then they came forth from their cabin, running along the 
shore, greeting with tender gratitude the fugitive light 
as a promise of salvation. 

According to the computation of Barents, the sun 
should reappear on the 9th of February. He was wrong. 
On the morning of the 24th of January, exactly at a mo- 
ment when they had reached the depths of sadness and 
discouragement, Heemskerck, De Veer, and another visit- 
ing the shore, saw to their great delight the disk of the sun 
in the horizon ; they returned with the joyful news to their 
companions. Barents was incredulous, and scouted it 
as impossible ; he was not prepared for the anomalous 
refraction peculiar to that latitude, which had so dis- 
turbed his calculations. But the fact was fully verified 
two days later, when one of them, opening the door, saw 
an extraordinary light, gave a shout, called his com- 
panions, and all went out of the cabin. There in the 
east the sky was illuminated with a clear radiance ; the 



moon was pale, the air limpid, the summits of the rocks 
and mountains tinged with rose ; the dawn at last, the 
sun, life, the benediction of God, and the hope of once 
more seeing their country after three months of darkness 
and anguish ! For a few moments they stood silent and 
pensive, overcome by emotion ; then they broke into 
cries and tears, embraced each other, waved their ragged 
caps, and made those horrid solitudes resound with ac- 
cents of prayer and joyful shouts. But their joy was 
brief. They looked in each other’s faces, and were filled 
with terror and pity one for the other. Cold, sleepless- 
ness, hunger, and anguish of spirit had so consumed and 
changed them that they were unrecognizable. And 
their sufferings were not yet over. In that same month 
the snow fell in such abundance that the cabin was al- 
most completely buried, and they were obliged to go in 
and out by the opening of the chimney. As the cold 
diminished and daylight came, the bears reappeared, and 
the danger, the sleepless nights, the fierce combats began 
again. Their strength declined, and their hearts, a little 
lifted, fell once more. 

One slight thread of hope, however, remained to them. 
The thought of getting their vessel out of the ice and 
making it seaworthy being in vain, they had brought 
ashore a boat and a shallop ; and little by little, always 


defending their lives against the bears, which attacked 
them even on the threshold of their hut, they had suc- 
ceeded in repairing them. With these two small boats 
they intended to try and reach one of the small Russian 
ports, by running along the northern coast of Nova 
Zembla and Siberia, and crossing the White Sea ; to 
make, in short, a voyage of at least four hundred German 
miles. During the whole month of March the variable 
weather kept them between hope and despair, when 
thoughts of home filled heroic minds. More than ten 
times had they seen the sea cleared of ice up to the 
shore, and had made ready to depart ; and as many 
times a great increase of cold had again piled up the ice 
and shut them in. 

At last, early in June, they were able to make ready to 
sail. The hour of departure being imminent, Barents, de- 
spite his illness, drew up, on the 1 3th, a small scroll, and put 
it in a powder-horn and fastened it to the chimney of the 
hut ; while Heemskerck penned a more minute relation 
of their adventures, a copy of which was- placed in each 
of the boats. On the morning of the 14th June, with 
beautiful weather, and the open sea on every side, after 
nearly ten months* sojourn in that fearful place, they 
set sail toward the continent. In two open boats, ex- 
hausted by protracted sufferings, they went to brave the 



furious windS) the long rains, the mortal cold, the whirl- 
ing ice-fields of that immense and terrible sea, where it 
seemed a desperate enterprise even to venture with a fleet. 
For a long time during the voyage they had to repulse the 
attacks of the white bears ; now they suffered from hun- 
ger ; now fed on birds, which they killed with stones, and 
on eggs found on the desolate shore ; they hoped and de- 
spaired ; they were cheerful or they wept, sometimes be- 
wailing themselves that they had abandoned Nova Zem- 
bla, sometimes invoking the tempest and praying for 
death. Often had they to drag their boats over fields of 
ice ; to tie them down lest they should be carried away 
by the wind ; to gather themselves together in a close 
group in the midst of the snow in order to resist the 
cold ; to call to each other through the dense fog or, 
perchance, hold together in the fear of being scattered 
and lost, and at times to gather courage from each 
other’s touch.* 

Graphic as is this picture of those awful trials, we 
know but too well from accounts of Arctic experiences 
in modem days that it is not overdrawn. But all did 
not resist such tremendous draughts upon their strength. 

> Van Kampen, as given in De Amicis’ “ Holland and its People." The Ital- 
ian writer, however, having allowed some historical inaccuracies to creep into his 
rendering or adaptation, these have been corrected, and something more, Hence 
it was not practicable to put the extracts in quotations. 


Already two of their number had died — the carpenter 
as early as September 23d ; and they had just re- 
turned from giving the other Christian burial in the 
snow, suffering from intensest cold, on the day when the 
sun reappeared. Barents himself had been long ill when 
he embarked, and could not walk. He felt, after a few 
days, his end approaching, and warned his companions. 
On the 1 6th June, only two days after their departure 
from Ice Haven, they had weathered the Cape of Desire 
and were nearing Cape Consolation — landmarks, as has 
been well said, on their desolate journey, whose nomencla- 
ture suggests the immortal apologue so familiar to Anglo- 
Saxon ears. Off Ice Cape the two boats came near to 
each other, and Skipper Heemskerck called out to William 
Barents to ask how he did. “ Very well,’* replied Barents, 
with seeming cheerfulness, I hope to be on my legs 
again before we get to Ward-huis.” Then said the sick 
man to De Veer : “ Gerrit, if we are near the Ice Point, 

just lift me up again. I must see that Point once more.” 
It afforded, doubtless, no small satisfaction to the dy- 
ing navigator to behold for the fourth time that north- 
ernmost point of Nova Zembla, the centre of his many 
discoveries, and notwithstanding his courageous talk, he 
knew probably but too well that he now saw it for the 
last time. Yet while tossing about in his open boat 



along those frozen shores, too weak to sit tipright, 
reduced to a mere shadow by the sufferings of that hor- 
rible winter, Barents had kept up his spirits, and main- 
tained that he would still, with God's help, perform his 
destined task. In his next attempt he would steer north- 
east from the North Cape, he said, and so discover the 

But the end was at hand. On the 20th June, while 
the hero was indulging in all these seeming high hopes, 
the boatswain of the other boat came on board and said 
that Claas Andriesz had begun to be extremely sick, and 
would not hold out much longer. Whereupon Barents 
spoke up, saying ; Methinks with me too it will not 
last long " — ^but let the faithful annalist relate the scene. 
“We did not judge William Barents to be so sick,” says 
he “ for we sat talking one with the other, and spoke of 
many things, and William Barents looked at my little 
chart which I had made of our voyage, and we had some 
discussion about it, at last he laid the chart away and 
spake unto me, saying, ‘ Gerrit, give me to drink ' ; and he 
had no sooner drunk than he was taken ill with so sudden 
a tremour, that he turned his eyes and died presently.” 
Barents had died so suddenly, indeed, that they had no 
time to call Heemskerck to come from the other boat. 
De Veer adds : “ The death of William Barents put us 


in no small discomfort, as being the chiefe guide and 
onely pilot on whom we reposed ourselves next under 
God ; but we could not strive against God, and therefore 
we must perforce be content.” 

Thus the hero, the moving spirit, the genius of these 
memorable voyages was no more ! Life left him, it may 
be said, as he was examining a map ; his arm fell stiffly 
in the act of pointing out the distant land, and his last 
words were in reality those of encouragement and coun- 
sel. Fitting was it, too, that this first true poleward voy- 
ager should be laid to rest amid the scenes of his grand 

In association with the name of Barents, we cannot 
know too well or too accurately the facts concerning his 
labors here. - Let us therefore revert briefly to his 
‘‘storied scroll.” De Veer states that, on the 13th June, 
Heemskerck and others, seeing that there was open water 
and a fair wind, had advised Barents that it would be 
wise to get their boats down to the shore and take their 
departure — then the diarist says : “ And William Bar- 
ents had previously written a small scroll, and placed it in 
a bandoleer and hanged it up in the chimney, showing 
'how we came out of Holland to saile to the kingdome 
of China, and what had happened unto us, being there 
on land, with all our crosses, that if any man chanced 




to come thither, they might know what had happened 
unto us, how we had fared, and how we had been forced 
in our extremity to build that house, and had dwelt lo 
months therein. And for that we were now forced to put 
to sea in two small open boats, and to undertake a 
dangerous and adventurous voyage in hand ; the skipper 
also wrote two letters, which most of us subscribed 
unto * ♦ ♦ of which letters each boat had one,” 
etc. In order to perfectly understand the facts, therefore, 
it may be said — we have only to take De Veer literally at 
his word.* 

^ Nearly all writera upon this subject hitherto have erroneously alluded to Bar- 
ents as having, previous to the departure of the party from Nova Zembla, drawn 
up a tripple record of the .voyage ” ; one copy of which being fastened to the 
chimney of the house, and one placed in each of the boats. Fortunately we are 
now enabled to correct this very natural error. Writers have taken De Veer at his 
word as they supposed ; but for want of the positive knowledge which now exists, 
they did not carefully distinguish between the “ small scroll ” {filynt ctdelk€n\ 
penned by Barents — which, as it turns out, was almost literally sketched by De Veer* 
in the passage quoted above — and the two “ letters ” {brieven) which the skipper,'* 
or in other words Heemskerck, drew up, of which De Veer gives a copy (too 
lengthy for quoting here), and to which, as he says, most of them subscribed. It has 
naturally been supposed that the record left in the deserted house was the same as the 
document entrusted to the boats and given formally by De Veer, and that Barents 
penned them all because of the statement with which De Veer starts out. The 
latter document, however, was clearly penned by Heemskerck. 

But thanks to the extraordinary discovery of Mr. Charles L. W. Gardiner, who 
in 1876 recovered the final relics of the winter house at Ice Haven, and to the skill 
of the Royal Archivbt at the Hague, we are enabled to give the contents of the 
"scroll" which Barents drew up and left in the powder-horn, June 13, 1597, 
supplying parenthetically such words as were lost. The " scroll," as may be 
readily comprehended, was, when turned over to the Archivist, a mere handful of 
pulp. The contents, translated, are as follows : " So (we) were sent (out) from 

(Burgomaste)rsof Am(ster)dam An(no) 1(59^ in order to sai(l) by the (N)orth to the 


in no small discomfort, as being the chiefe guide and 
onely pilot on whom we reposed ourselves next under 
God ; but we could not strive against God, and therefore 
we must perforce be content.” 

Thus the hero, the moving spirit, the genius of these 
memorable voyages was no more ! Life left him, it may 
be said, as he was examining a map ; his arm fell stiffly 
in the act of pointing out the distant land, and his last 
words were in reality those of encouragement and coun- 
sel. Fitting was it, too, that this first true poleward voy- 
ager should be laid to rest amid the scenes of his grand 

In association with the name of Barents, we cannot 
know too well or too accurately the facts concerning his 
labors here. - Let us therefore revert briefly to his 
‘‘storied scroll.” De Veer states that, on the 13th June, 
Heemskerck and others, seeing that there was open water 
and a fair wind, had advised Barents that it would be 
wise to get their boats down to the shore and take their 
departure — then the diarist says : “ And William Bar- 

ents had previously written a small scroll, and placed it in 
a bandoleer and hanged it up in the chimney, showing 
'how we came out of Holland to saile to the kingdome 
of China, and what had happened unto us, being there 
on land, with all our crosses, that if any man chanced 



to come thither, they might know what had happened 
unto us, how we had fared, and how we had been forced 
in our extremity to build that house, and had dwelt lo 
months therein. And for that we were now forced to put 
to sea in two small open boats, and to undertake a 
dangerous and adventurous voyage in hand ; the skipper 
also wrote two letters, which most of us subscribed 
unto * ♦ ♦ of which letters each boat had one,” 
etc. In order to perfectly understand the facts, therefore, 
it may be said — we have only to take De Veer literally at 
his word.* 

^ Nearly all writera upon this subject hitherto have erroneously alluded to Bar- 
ents as having, previous to the departure of the party from Nova Zembla, drawn 
up a tripple record of the .voyage ” ; one copy of which being fastened to the 
chimney of the house, and one placed in each of the boats. Fortunately we are 
now enabled to correct this very natural error. Writers have taken De Veer at his 
word as they supposed ; but for want of the positive knowledge which now exists, 
they did not carefully distinguish between the “ small scroll ” {flynt cedelken). 
penned by Barents — which, as it turns out, was almost literally sketched by De Veer, 
in the passage quoted above — and the letters ” {britven) which the skipper,** 

or in other words Heemskerck, drew up, of which De Veer gives a copy (too 
lengthy for quoting here), and to which, as he says, most of them subscribed. It has 
naturally been supposed that the record left in the deserted house was the same as the 
document entrusted to the boats and given formally by De Veer, and that Barents 
penned them all because of the statement with which De Veer starts out. The 
latter document, however, was clearly penned by Heemskerck. 

But thanks to the extraordinary discovery of Mr. Charles L. W. Gardiner, who 
in 1876 recovered the final relics of the winter house at Ice Haven, and to the skill 
of the Royal Archivist at the Hague, we are enabled to give the contents of the 
** scroll** which Barents drew up and left in the i>owder-hom, June 13, 1597, 
supplying parenthetically such words as were lost. The ** scroll,** as may be 
readily comprehended, was, when turned over to the Archivist, a mere handful of 
pulp. The contents, translated, are as follows : ** So (we) were sent (out) from 

(Burgomaste)rs of Am(ster)dam An(no) 1(59^ in order to sai(l) by the (N)orth to the 


But if the struggling crews — now, after June 20th, re- 
duced to thirteen men — had no longer their beloved and 
trusted pilot to inspire them and give them counsel^ 
there remained, to them the brave Heemskerck ; and the 
skill and judgment with which he conducted the remark-, 
able homeward journey, exposed for over forty days to 
the extremities of cold, famine, sickness, and fatigue, 
was well worthy of the noble qualities he afterward dis- 
played on a grander stage, and entitled him to rank only 
second in their regard and veneration. 

In the Bay of St. Lawrence they met, it may be imag- 
ined with what joy, a Russian bark, which gave them 
some provisions, some wine, and lime-juice, a remedy 
against scurvy, from which several of the sailors were 
suffering, and which speedily cured them. They coasted 
along Siberia, and met other Russian vessels more and 

countries of Chinas so th(at) we after great trouble and no (small) danger are come 
round the West of Nov(a Zembla) intending yet also to sail (along) by the coast of 
Tarter(y) to the aforesaid countries, (and are fin)ally come on this plac(e) on the 26th 
Augus(t in the year) above men(tioned) where our (ship, after we had) so bravely 
exerted ourselves, (at last) became fast in (the) ice. And we have (moreover in) this 
emergency been compelled to build a h(ous)e (to) preserve our lives therei(n) through 
the winter if possible from cold. Lived in the house from the — 12 — October 
anno— 1596 — all the whole winter through till — 13 (Jun)ewhen our ship still lay 
pinched all fast in (the ice) with our boat and yawl sa(iled) from here in order that 
we might come home again. Our God will grant us safe voyage, and bring us with 
good health in our fatherland. Amen. 

“ Wil(li)am Barents. 

“ Ja(cob) Heemskerck.*’ 

(See Note 13 on the recovery of the Barents Relics at the end of this volume.) 



more frequently, from them receiving fresh provisions 
and thus gradually restoring their strength ; some Rus- 
sian fishermen recognizing Heemskerck and De Veer, 
having seen them on their previous voyage. On the 13th 
August they reached the entrance of the White Sea. 
Here a dense fog separated the two boats, but both 
weathered Cape Kanin Nos, and, favored by the wind, 
made one hundred and twenty miles in thirty hours, after 
which they met again with shouts of joy. 

But still greater joy awaited them at Kildin. Landing 
on the coast, they were informed that there were vessels 
from Holland at Kola. Straightway, on the 25 th August, 
a messenger was despatched, guided by a Lap, to ascer- 
tain the fact. In four days the guide himself returned 
bringing a letter, which to their joyous amazement turned 
out to be from their old comrade John Comelisz Ryp 
who, not pursuing his Spitzbergen researches of the year 
before, had returned to Holland, and was now, it is be- 
lieved, on a trading venture to the White Sea. On the 
2d September the exhausted crews reached Kola, where 
they joined Ryp’s ship, greeting the flag of their country 
in a perfect delirium of joy. The crews of Ryp and the 
companions of poor Barents embraced each other with 
tears, relating their adventures, lamenting their dead 
comrades, and forgetting their past sufferings in the joy 
of meeting. 


Bequeathing their boats to the friendly people of Kola, 
they set sail with Ryp for Holland, arriving in the Meuse 
on the 29th of October, 1597, and becoming for the 
while — as, so to speak, men returned from the grave — 
the lions of Amsterdam and the Hague ; and when last 
heard from they are being received in their strange 
apparel of white-fox furs by Prince Maurice. 






S TILL hung the dread debate, and fiercely raged, 
*Twixt Freedom and Oppression ; still the soil, 
Our fathers* heritage, unwilling bore 
The hosts of Spain, and with abhorrence drank 
The mingling blood of strangers and of sons. 

The bruising weight of War rolled heavily 

0*er Flanders' plains, and deeply furrowing marred 

The even bosom of the fruitful land ; 

All Holland felt — all the fair sisterhood 
Of allied Provinces — the galling woe ! 

Yet Holland's flag defiant waved in pride 

O'er land and sea, where glory led the way, 



And oft to Victory pointed Freedom's sons 
When haughty Spain, that never knew defeat, 
Shrank in dismay from the triumphant sword 
Of Maurice, of the Princely Orange line. 

And still, though War his desolations spread. 
Commerce her fleets to farthest India sent. 
Carrying the spicy products of the East ; 

And Java's wealth enriched the struggling State. 

Europe, astounded, saw the marvel rise : 

This land of marshes, where the rivers sank 
Into the soil, and the low surface lay 

Beneath the Ocean's bosom,* — saw it rise 
And wax to greatness, till it claimed a rank 

Among her proudest and her fairest realms, — 

A very jewel sparkling in her crown ! 

Then Holland’s mariners with fearless hearts 
Pushed into every sea, exploring shores 
That until then were vainly sought on maps. 
Boldest of all. Van Noord, with hand secure 
Seizes the helm, and steers his scanty fleet 



Thro* wild Magellan's straits, and round the globe 
Completes the second circuit man had made. 


But Heemskerck has conceived a stouter plan, 

He would attempt a more adventurous course : 

His nights are spent in waking, days entire 
His thought is changeless fixed ; his reckonings run 
Transverse o'er all the globe ; the various seas 
Believes but parts of one encircling deep, 

And all the world an island, so that North, 

South, West, nor East, no obstacle will stay 
> Man's circumnavigating course. He would, — 

Imagination startles at the thought ! — 

He would, to reach the Orient's torrid zones. 

Pierce through the icy Arctic. Past the coast 
Of Nova Zembla, lost in storms and snow. 

Beyond bleak Russia's northernmost coniines, 

And all along Siberia's ice-bound shores. 

Descending by Kamschatka's farthest capes, — 

To China would he sail, and, haply, find 
^ The Indus' mighty flood. And if such path ■ 

Through everlasting ice-fields may be found, 


’T is Holland’s flag shall show the dangerous way 
To wondering Europe. 

Hearts as brave as his 
Are found, and Ryp will share the perilous toils, 

And dare the deaths that threaten. Two stout barks 
Is all they ask, with dauntless sailors manned. 

The bold design progresses step by step. 

And soon two ships with dapper crews are theirs. 
Barents * himself will govern Heemskerck’s helm : 

He, calm in danger, firm of soul, and young 
In zeal, tho* gray in knowledge, sailor-bom. 

Stands ready on the deck. Impatient now 
They wait the longed-for hour that sees them start. 

It comes. The coast is thronged, the island-shores 
Of Texel teem with human life. The piers 
Are peopled, boats are decked in festive dress. 

And cruise about to view with nearer gaze 
The venturous ships. Farewells and parting shouts, 
Rung lustily from the crowds, and answered back 
By cheers as lusty from the elated crews, 



Make all the strand one scene of jubilee. 

All Holland breathes one wish to heaven ; she sees, 
Exulting, these her children fearless go, 

Despising dangers, braving fate, perhaps 
To add one laurel to her glory- wreath. . . . 

Begins the bold attempt ! of which the years 
To come shall speak to children yet unborn ! 

The cables wound, the sails unfurled, they wait 
With bated breath the signal to depart. , . . 

See, see ! the match is touched, the powder fires ; 
Forth bursts the thundering shot, and booming speaks 
A well-timed prayer for the country's weal ! 

Sing, Muse ! and touch with skilful hand the lyre ! 
This exploit all too daring fitly sing : 

Then, as they breast the waves of trackless seas 
That never were explored, O sweep the strings. 
Swelling with notes of stirring power, and praise 
The deed ; or when the issue asks it, mourn 
In melting strains their pitiable fate : 

And be thy skill's appropriate meed, a tear ! 


S EEMED Nature's self forbade the enterprise ; 

As pitying the misery they would reap, 

She sent opposing winds. But fruitless was 
The warning ; to defy and set the law 
To Nature, making the rebellious blasts 
Their servants,* now not first they were to learn, 

But custom long had taught. The flood-tide's rise 
Lifts them across the sandy bar : in face 
Of adverse winds and the grim surging waves, 
Proudly the bounding vessels forward leap. 

Divide the main, and Nature's grasp elude. 

Sail upon sail they crowd on creaking masts. 

And soon are lost to sight. To northern climes 
Attempt their steadfast course, and hasten on 
Like hunted deer that skims the grassy plain. 

Alas, and whither, wanderers, do ye haste ? 

Turn, turn your bows back to the shores whence late 




Farewells rung out — and flee your certain grave ! 
Behold your streaming pennant, fluttering high, 
Points to the land you all too reckless leave ! 


The unfriendly North ye seek hurls these rude blasts 
Against your ships that, as they wrestle, spring 
Full many a gaping leak. Your keels can scarce 
Resist the fearful strain upon them. See ! 

The rigging, shorn from the supporting yards, 

Falls in confusion down. The lofty masts 
Sway to and fro like reeds bent by the gale ; 

And now at length the helm defies control. . . . 
Wanderers, return ! the shores forsaken seek ! 

Ha, see ye not that Death is in these waves. 

And yearns to clasp you to his cold embrace ? 

'T is vain ; their courage flags not, tho* their need 
Is utmost : spite of adverse tempest still 
They stagger on. Swells to more deafening roar. 

As by defiance more relentless grown. 

The angry storm. The billows, skyward reared, 
Descend with might gigantic on the ships. 

Till hull and franje work tremble at the shock. 


But long the gallant ships outride the storm, 
Undaunted and unconquered ; till at length, 

In one last effort of expiring rage. 

The tempest, blowing with a fiercer blast. 

Upheaves the ocean to unwonted height, 

And flings them far apart — each lost to each ! 

Whither, ye parted voyagers, so late 
Pursuing jointly your adventurous course — 

O whither wander now ? Why cruise in vain 
The watery plain around you, that ye may 
Each to the other hastening reunite ? 

Why sweep the horizon all the compass round ? 

The boiling seas and whizzing welkin, these. 

And these alone, your straining eyes behold ! 

Then thus spake Ryp, who knew no dread till now : 
“ Alas ! ye found your grave, ye comrades bold ! 
Holland, alas ! thy Heemskerck thou hast lost ! 

That last farewell thou *lt rue but all too soon. 

And sorrow reap for laurels. Come, my mates, 

Yon coast perchance a refuge may afford : 




Refit the riddled ship, and thither steer ! 

Let Holland still be spared what in ourselves 
She has not lost as yet, though, unrepaired, 

She mourn the others’ loss.” He spake, and swift 
They speed them onward, and in silence wipe 
The moistened eye. 

Now all my hope is fled ” 
(Thus Heemskerck spake) ; ‘‘ far as I gaze, and strain 
My utmost, whither I may turn, of Ryp 
I see no trace, no mast nor pennon more. 

> My friends, ’t is o’er, the sea hath whelmed them all ! 

No, no ! wipe not the tears that flood your eyes ; 

Not less a hero he who has a heart 

That feels another’s woe. Weep, weep, my men ! — 

Rest^ brethren^ rest! you 're worthy of these tears ! — 

But, comrades, see ! there ’s that which cheers amid 
The press of our misfortunes ! Lo, the storm 
Turned in our favor its expiring wrath. 

And prospered our adventure, — flung us past 
j. The North Cape. We shall feel the ice apace 

Crushing against our bows, and see it drift 


On every side. The Path is near ! — the path 
Disclosed till now was never yet by man I 
On, onward to the East ! thro' ice-fields hence ! 
Success attends us, comrades ! Courage, men ! ” 

His dauntless language sets their souls aglow ; 
Springs each to work with quickened sinews, strung 
To spirited endeavor. Soon the ship, 

Rigged and refitted, boldly rides the waves ; 

The canvas all unreefed, she onward hies 
Like some brave bird that spreads his tireless wing. 
Onward they speed, thro' shattering ice-floes on, — 
On through the pelting hail, the drifting snow ; 

A mist enfolds them, icy in its touch ; 

It garnishes the streamers and the yards 
With glittering icicles ; the feet freeze fast 
To deck and moistened gangway ; soon the helm 
Hangs moveless, and the cordage freezes stiff. 

Thus on they journey, all the prospect drear, 
And growing dismal more with every hour. 


Helpless they drift where’er the varying wind 
May list to push them with the shifting ice. 
Ere long the ice-fields cease tó move, the sea 
Lies solid, held in Winter’s icy grip. 

And in the midst their ship fast riveted, 
Seems hopeless fixed, never to move again. 


W HAT region this ? The leaden welkin hangs 
Sullen and heavy here ; here Nature wears, 
Pallid and cold, the livery of death. 

Vacant 't is all and silent, soulless, drear. 

A single mew flits hungrily about : 

A solitary fir of stunted growth 
And faded verdure, only remnant here 
Of Earth's abundant life, on yonder cliff 
Appears above the snow. 

But hark ! a sound 

Disturbs the air : 't is a low rumbling noise. 

That wakes the echoes of this silent grave 

Like muffled thunder ; whence but all too soon 

They, horror-struck, perceive. An iceberg huge. 

Crushing the ice-floes in its onward path. 

Comes from afar : shuddering, they see it come, 

Nearer, and still more near ; on, on it sweeps, 




Horrid destruction seated on its front, 

And e’er expanding its colossal base, ‘ 

Still growing as it goes : it cleaves the main, 

And down the chasm drawn thro* the quivering deep 
The waves rush headlong with a deafening roar. 

It nears the ship ! each pours his latest prayer ! — 
Thank God ! it dashes past ; but many a plank 
Is wrenched from its firm fastenings. Farther on 
It plunges, till *t is seen and heard no more. 

Now loosened from the ice grip, once again 
*Mid wild confusion drifts the fated ship. 

The billows surge beneath, and beat and burst 
The heaving ice-floes, and the fragments fling 
From wave to wave ; these, hurtling thro’ the air. 
Strike her rent sides with oft-repeated shocks. 

A helpless prey ’mid all this tumult dire. 

The vessel, whirled and tossed with easy force 

By warring elements, obeys in turn 

That which in turn predominates. At last, 

Driven by the gale where boils a narrow sea 
’Twixt two approaching ice-fields, as they close 

They clasp the ship between them. High her bow 
Points to the sky, her stern the meanwhile fixed 
Within the frozen vice — upright she stands. 

Now wreck and ruin have their perfect work. 

Naught could withstand, tho’ stanch and brave the ship, 
Naught could withstand destruction such as this. 

The gallant sailors now no more can hope 
To bold their own upon the hapless ship ; 

They seize the loosened rigging, tackling, ropes, 

With desperate effort swing themselves o'erboard. 

They speed them o’er the ice that human foot 
Ne'er trod before ; they wade thro' depths of snow 
That never felt a footstep : on they haste. 

But know not whither terror urges them. 

Oh ! boon midst so much ill, with joy perceived 
And loudly cheered : see yonder tongue of land ! 
Thither they now direct their rapid course ; 

They feel that they are fleeing from a death 
'TV-. ». 1 — .jQg them, loth now at last to lose 
that so certain seemed his prey. 



With every step they double still their speed 
To reach yon place of refuge. Rocks that rise 
Above the highest steeple Holland knows, 

And rent in perpendicular clefts, — they see 
Before them . . . mark their path, 't is difficult, 
Winding along, between, the rifted heights. 

Where scattered blocks of ice their way impede. 

And drifts of snow ; but naught can check them now, 
They halt nor hesitate, attain the land ; . . . 

And Nova Zembla’s shores bear human feet ! 


H ere winter has forever fixed his throne 
His heritage is here, his kingdom this ! 
Here balmy Spring-days venture not to bloom ; 
The Sun’s low slanting rays that faint, and cold, 
And wearily lagging thro’ the distance beam, 

May lap the snow, but leave the ice unhurt. 

What mortal here can live of man or beast ? 

The hardy Northman, searching every coast 
In quest of booty, shuns this ice-bound waste. 

No other spot on earth tho’ scant endowed 
So miserably barren, stricken, dead ! 

The soil is frozen into stone, to be 
Never again dissolved to fruitfulness. 

’T is only snow-flakes here the clouds bestow, 

A deathly whiteness, all the landscape round, 
Creation’s garb invariably here. 

Inhospitable cliffs forbidding rise. 



Where’er the eye its distant glances turns ; 

Seems only ice builds up their beetling front. 

Ha ! see them bending heavily o’er their base ; 

Unseated by the tides and by the winds, 

They threaten death to him who dares approach. 

The uninviting region this, from all 

Human society cut off ; and such 

The shores by Heemskerck and his comrades trod. 

And on this soil, before untrod by man. 

Kneeling, his fervent thanks to Heaven he pours, 

Who all his men preserved ; then, rising, he — 

In ecstasy of feeling mixed of joy 
And misery, of fear and gratitude — 

Clasps them to his brave heart in warm embrace. 

He seeks to pierce the endless distance through. 

With anxious looks explores the desolate scene, 

And . . . shudders. Shudders every soul that views 
Such aspects drear. 

Meanwhile the night descends, 
Compelling farther progress on the land, 


If haply they some shelter there may find. 

Alas ! no hut's protecting roof they see, 

Nor tree, its scanty refuge to afford 
To their exhausted limbs. At every step 
Their bosoms throb with ever-growing dread. 
Breaks not one star the still-increasing gloom ; 
They see not one another ; one by one, 

By weariness o'er-mastered, they sink down, 
Happy to nestle 'neath the chilly snow : 

Yet fatal were the sleep that courts them now ; 
They toss about and grant their limbs no rest. 

Ha ! see they not yon polar bear advance ? 

He sniffs the tainted breeze ; unwonted prey 
He scents ; with every pace he nearer draws, 
Infuriate hunger fires his appetite ; 

The snowy mantle of his shaggy fur 
Makes him an indistinguishable part 
Of the surrounding whiteness ; now he marks 
His victim, — comes with stealthy, noiseless step, — 
Clutches the nearest of the luckless crew. 

And drags him bleeding to his distant den, 



A terror seizes all, they know not why ; 

They hear faint murmurings of a smothered groan, 

That ceases soon, expiring in a sigh. 

Stunned and distracted with a nameless fear. 

They darkling grope, to know what harm has come ; 
They close in narrower circle, hand joins hand. 

And one by one they call the several names. 

And one is missed! A horror thrills their frames : 

They seek the ground no more, but stand and watch, 
Scarce breathing, listening, hushed, and trembling stand. 

And long they wait the dawn, for tardy mom 
Delays, spite their strong wishes for the light. 

A stinging pain the biting frost imparts. 

Yet scarce dare move their limbs, lest they attract 
Some prowling enemy. At length they see 
The first faint ray just struggling thro* the gloom : 

Pale morn arrives and brightens by degrees. 

They trace their comrade’s fate, too plainly shown : 
Where he was dragged along the virgin snow 
They mark his progress by the frozen blood ! 

Then, shuddering at the sight, they hasten back 


To the bleak shore so gladly hailed at first. 

Yon lies the ship, wrecked by the crushing ice ; 

They view the heaving sea, with half its width 
A frozen surface. Such the unfriendly land 
They hoped would give them refuge ? Ha ! despair 
Finds utterance in loud bursts of sobbing grief ! 

But Barents, brave and calm, revives their hearts. 
Inspires them with new courage : ** Ay, my mates. 

Our lot is hard ; hope of return is vain. 

And each successive mom shall make more dread 
Our dread extremity. Severe and long 
Beyond what we have ever known before. 

The winter is upon us. Though no eye 
Of human pity melt, nor mortal hand 
Supply our need, the Omniscient Eye can see. 

And God's own hand shall keep us and provide. 
Come, resting in that hope, let busy hands 
Be now addressed to work. What still is left 
Of our provisions carry hence at once 
From the misshapen wreck ; God grant it last 
Until deliverance come. Next let us draw 



The vessers boats upon the shore, and safe 
Beneath the snow-heaps bury them ; perhaps 
When ocean shall have cast his icy bonds, 

These then may serve us on our homeward way. 

Let arms and ammunition gathered be. 

The sails be stripped, what can be saved, preserved ; 
And from the shattered framework of the ship 
Be reared a dwelling on the cheerless shore ! 

To work ! Necessity asks speed ! Our lives 
Depend upon our diligence ! ” 

He spoke ; 

Then hurries to their front, and sets at once 
The example to their quickened energies. 

With headlong haste they rush to scale the wreck. 
And soon the glancing axe, driven firm and true 
Into the planking, clears the ringing boards. 

And trembles in the solid ribs and keel. 




A nd still the cold with every hour increased. 

Sharp flew the hailstones, and the drifted snow 
Blinded their eyes and to their limbs froze fast ; 

Rocks the huge hulk, swayed by the forceful sweep 
Of the strong gale. They pant and gasp for breath 
In face of the fierce storm, and slow their work. 

At times the cold benumbs their faculties : 

Before their wandering minds they seem to see 
Children and wife, and agonize to strain 
To their sad hearts the loved reality. 

Then they perforce must rouse them for their lives ; 
Compel their limbs to labor, lest the frost 
Transfix them where they stand. 

To various work 

Do various bands address themselves : some heap 
The slippery banks with timbers of the ship ; 




Some strip the sails ; the cabin’s furniture 
Others transport with care ; and skilful hands 
Remove the nautic instruments. The stores 
Of provender and vats of salted meat 
Some make their task to gather ; some the boats 
Cut from their fastenings, and upon the shore 
Beneath the snow bestow them ; others search 
The driftwood, and the while prepare rude sleds 
From the smooth logs. The loads ascend the beach 
In slow but sure succession, till at last 
No more is left to gather from the ship, 

That, severed into all its elements, 

And rifled of its contents, now no more 
Is to be recognized. 

Now eager hands 

With strong endeavor ply the axe and spade 
To break the stiffened ground. The snow is cleared, 
A space is measured, and the lines are traced. 

Hark ! the first post is driven to its rest. 

Loud crashing through the ice-incrusted earth ! 

Blows upon blows from lusty hammers ring. 


The startled shores reverberate the sound. 

The sharp-toothed saws the hardened timbers rend, 

Adjusting each to its proportions due ; 

The posts are set, the studs rise side by side 

Between ; the leaning rafters crown their top ; 

The beams are fastened and securely link 

The frame together to defy the blast. 

The biting frost, that ever fiercer grows, 

Urges the hands to still redoubling haste. 

Bravely they labor on, till soon the boards 

Climb upward from the ground along the sides. 

And deck the rafters with protecting roof, 

Holding a precious space where snows nor winds 
May find an entrance. Hammocks next are slung ; 
They hang the doubled sails along the walls ; 

And what so late had housed .them as their ship. 
Stands re-created on the shore — their house. 

Had but a few nights in the hut been spent, 

When as the morning dawned — which, ever more 

Forgetting its expected time, and still 

With ever-slower footsteps, brought the day, — 



A vision greeted their first outward glance, 

Appalled them with a sudden fear. For lo ! 

A score of bears, by hunger driven in search 
Of prey, besieged them in their house. Erect, 

With forepaws clawing savagely the boards. 

They sniffed along the walls, their quickened scent 
Discerning tempting food within, and keen 
Anticipation watering at their mouths. 

Nor long dismay possessed them, but their fear 
Gave way to thankfulness, that Providence 


Had brought these grizzly monsters to their door. 

Soon are their guns in hand, and Heemskerck’s voice 
Cheers them to the encounter with the foe : 

“ Come, comrades, come ! Mark you yon savage beasts ? 
Up, scale the roof, and thence securely deal 
Death and destruction thro* their hairy ranks ! ** ‘ 

He spoke, and climbs aloft, and breaks away 
The covering boards : the hungry brutes draw back 
And grimly scan their prey, — they rise to spring 
Upon them, but with frenzy, fierce and vain, 

They paw the air ; not helpless thus their foes : 

Hark ! cracks the first swift shot, and pierces thro* 


The furry hide. Follows a second ! third ! 

The rattling musketry, discharging shots 
In quick succession, hurls the fatal balls 
Among the astounded brutes ; nor long they stand ; 
Precipitate they flee ; they seek their dens 
Staggering and blinded with the unwonted pain 
And penetrating woe ; nor many find. 

For far the most fall prostrate^ writhing sore 

And weltering in their blood. Now, hastening down, 

The men the dying monsters soon despatch ; 

They tear the hairy hides from reeking flesh, 
Affording toothsome food. The fat is spared 
To serve as oil for lamps and cheer the night ; 

They stretch the skins to dry them in the wind, 

And as proud trophies won on honor's field, 

They wear the snugly fitting cap or coat, 

Sewn roughly of the fur, uncouth but warm. 

And longer hangs the night, and still more brief 
The day ; the sun grows feebler, and more fierce 
The wintry blasts. The ever-keener cold, 

That scarce is banished at the blazing hearth, 



Shortens whate’er of fuel they had spared 
At building of the hut ; thus forth again, 

Reluctant they prepare to brave the cold, 

Short tho* the journey to the neighboring beach. 
Where lies the driftwood plenteous, to be tom 
From beds of snow and the unyielding ice. 

They draw the sleds along the frozen shores, 

And many a groaning load rewards their toil. 

But oft with labors slow and painful pass 
The hurrying hours, and oft the day is gone, 

And night already falling (still before 
Its lawful time) ere they can gain the hut ; 

Then wandering much in doubt, they tread with step 
That grows more cautious at each turn, until 
They see the lamp set out for beacon-light. 
Sometimes a bear with quick and fatal clutch, 

Before the ready hand can wield the gun, 

Assails the hindmost of the company. 

Sometimes the sleet or snow, by tempest driven. 

Will penetrate e’en to the coursing blood. 

Stiffening the sinews, to their utmost strung 


By hardest toil or violent exercise, 

Freezing the chill sweat over all their frame. 

Then wool nor fur avail, tho' closely wrapped ; 

The head grows swollen, reels the dizzied brain ; 
The skin to the utmost strained is torn apart 
And gapes in open wounds. The humid breath. 
With pain expanded from the laboring breast. 
Freezes to solid crusts on beard and lips. 

Then hastening to the shelter of the house, 

They close the doors, the window-shutters bolt, 
Heap high the wood upon the hearth, retire 
Within their hammocks, nestling close and wrapped 
In their thick furs. But thro' those fearful nights. 
When the fierce cold is fanned by furious gales. 
They shiver none the less within their beds ; 

The hoar-frost creeps along the walls, tho' charred 
By overheated fireplace ; yea, and where 
The snow-flake, shaken from their garments, falls 
Upon the hearth — it glistens dry and white ! 


S TILL ever keener bites the freezing air, 

And e*er more pitiless the sweeping blasts 
Howl through the lengthening watches of the nights. 
Still shorter grow the days : with pace too slow 
Ever more tardily returning, soon. 

And every day still sooner, they depart ; 

As if the light reluctant dawned on shores 
So dismal and severe, and to the Night 
With her dark shades would rather leave to brood 
O’er hideous desolation such as this. — 

At last the Sun in his appointed round 
Failed utterly, and would not show his beams, 

Nor bring the day again to earth or sky. 

Anxious, astonished, with expectant looks 
That still are doomed to disappointment strange. 

The men gaze up into the midnight sky 



• And wonder is not morning : long the lamp 
Expired, a second wick has been consumed, 

And yet the darkness is about them, still 
The night seems only half o*er-spent, so far 
Are signs of daylight absent from the East. 

Then the new horror flashed upon their minds ! 

In dumb amazement each to other looks ! 

Yes, Night has fixed her throne, and rules the 
Is it that the wide hut to sudden depths 
Has sunk, and this the darkness of the grave ? 

Or has Creation — in this horrid clime 
Succumbing to severities extreme — 

Resolved itself to chaos, lost what first 
The voice of God called forth, and now is left 
To the primeval darkness whence it sprang ? 

But see ! the horizon trembles once again 
With the returning light, the snow-drifts cease 
To strew the atmosphere with thickening flakes. 
And leave the welkin open to the view. . . . 

Alas ! *t is but the attendant of the night. 



And not returning day : from highest heaven 
Pours down the Moon her -perpendicular rays ; 

No morning sets her bounds, no noonday dims 
Her lustre ; she through all her phases holds 
Her lofty course about the polar star ; 

Restoring light, but leaving Night her reign 
Unending, and her terrors unremoved ; 

For the quenched Sun lifts not his radiant head, — ^ 
Day is no more, and Hope lies buried too. 

Then thus spake Barents : “Ay, my comrades, this 
The blow I long have feared ; this startling scene. 
Scarce to be understood or credited. 

Except experience teach it, — this belongs 
To Arctic shores, where Earth around her poles 
Contracts her Continents. Long shall this night 
Envelop us, yea, months shall count its time. 

Ah ! how the leaden hours will drag along. 

Fraught with extremities of cold and storm ! 

Knows only God (to Whom the darkness is 
As light, e'en in such night as this) of all 
Our number who shall see the distant day ! 


Offend we not His might and gracious care 
By desperation’s murmurings-: He sees 
And pities all our suffering ; only He 
Our hope, our help, and solacp in this grief. 

Lo ! yonder placid moon, whose softer rays 
Bring us a silvery memory of the day. 

Bespeaks His care ; blest be that fainter light ! 

Tho’ variable, now growing, and anon 
Lessening to a dark disc scarce visible, — 

'T will often cheer our hapless sojourn, guide 
Our footsteps ; and if perils haunt our path 
Will faithfully announce them, and reveal 
The path of safety ; till the Sun awake. 

And light and hope together banish night ! ” 

Thus Barents ; but none answered, for each heart 
Was filled with thoughts that asked no aid of speech ; 
One feeling swayed them all, subdued and sad. 

Some wistful gazed into the glowing coals ; 

Some wept the silent tear, or breathed a sigh — 
Tributes to distant hearths and happier days. 

Then, like brave men, they set their earnest minds 



To face the future, shuddering yet withal 
At the drear prospect. With severest care 
And inventory strict their hoarded stores 
They calculate ; fixed rations they appoint, 

That, thus eked out to the utmost, they may last. 
The fuel has its measured limits set ; 

The slender wick is split to half its width. 

To bring the lamp thro* twice its length of cheer. 

But cordial concord reigns, tho* penury 
Prevails, and, uncompelled by strict commands. 
Rules discipline thro* all the exiled crew. 

And when the calendar brings in their course 
The Christian Holydays, tho* dire their need. 
Old-time Economy, the nation’s boast. 

Knows how to deal with a more liberal hand. 
Then do they tear from the fast-frozen vat 
The salted meat, and in the roaring blaze 
Swings the broad kettle ; tempting fumes arise, 
And the unwonted dish sets to keen edge 
Their too abstemious appetites. Before 
They gather round the sumptuous board, they list 


With barèd brows the reading of the Word 
That tells the sacred story of the day ; 

They render to the Lord with pious hearts 
The special thanks which to the day belong ; 

And jointly sing the heartfelt hymn of praise, 

Till Nova Zembla's ice-bound desert rings 
With swelling numbers of Dutch psalmody, — 

Then with glad zest they celebrate the feast 
Before them spread. And next, if games, or forms 
Of sportive ceremony • custom long 
Hath joined to the memorial day, with these 
They pass the time, and court the generous glee 
That makes these days more dear, nor less devout 
The holy memories which the Church enjoins. 



A t Evening — marked not by declining day, 
But by the clock — at social eventide, 
Gathers the close-drawn circle round the hearth. 
Then penetrates thro* all their pressing cares 
A quiet joy, that lessens grief the while ; 

Then flows the wine, or in deep draughts of beer 
(The old-time custom of the Fatherland) 

They drink to loving maid, or wife, who claim 
Their heart’s devotion true ; and if the tear 
Drops as they drink into the foaming bowl, 

The melting sorrow soothes the troubled breast. 

And oft to serious themes inclined, they love 
To share their mutual minds, and speak of home. 
Of wife and children, whom they never more 
(Unhappy thought !) may to their bosom strain. 
Thus as the night wears on each in his turn 



Has asked attention : one relates how dear 
His loving wife, recounts his children’s names, 

How hard each parting as he sails abroad. — 
Another tells how much his oldest boy 
Resembles him, and seems a sailor bom. 

Teasing each voyage to be gone with him ; 

The mother, sadly smiling through her tears. 

Looks fond, proud glances at the fearless boy. — 

■ A third remembers how on that sad day 
Of latest and perhaps of last farewell. 

His babe held forth its arms a hundred times. 
Pursed the sweet lips to kiss him, lisped and spake, 
The first of untried speech, a father's name. . . . 

But ’t is too much, these memories overcome 
The spirit, and the words are choked in tears. 

On other nights they turn to games of chance, 
Rattle the dice, and place the checker-board. 

And challenge comrades to adventures safe 
In trials of skill and fortune : one by one 
They gather round the board, and heavy time 
Slips onward, all its misery unperceived 



For a brief respite season. Some the while 
Look on, and fill the hours with useful work, 
Mending worn doublets, or the tattered sail. 

Or sometimes they recount with burning hearts 
The glorious history of the Fatherland. 

They tell with brave enthusiastic tongue 
Of Maurice and his princely deeds of war ; 

Whose military genius, joined to soul 
Heroic as old Rome’s devoted sons. 

Swept out of Spain’s presumptuous hands of might 
Full many a stronghold of the despot’s power, 

Breda by stratagem, by valor Hulst ; * 

Loyal to memories of the illustrious sire, 

William the Silent, martyred for his land,* 

Linked to the glories of the martial son, — 

Their souls burst forth into the stirring strains, 

“ Wilhelmus van Nassauwen^'y till the hut 
Rings to the echo with the boisterous song. 
Warmed by these themes, their patriotic hearts 
Bound with a sympathetic bravery ; 

They seem transported to the scene of war. 


They join their comrades in the noble strife, 

And in their proud enthusiasm forget 
Their dire surroundings and imprisonment** 

But yet the night continues, nor will yield 
The hours that justly are the day’s. And still. 
When what should be the morning comes, they look 
But to be disappointed — for the dawn. 


B ut *t is not always gloom, for even here 

Nature has that which the rapt soul compels 
To adoration. Yea, hath God not made 
All things, in all their times and everywhere, 
Marvellous and beautiful ? In this sad clime, 
Where stricken Nature seemed forever doomed 


To impotency, barrenness, and death. 

Is night made glorious, and all Heav’n bid shine 
With gorgeous beauties, such as wildest dreams 
Have never set before the thought of man. 

For lo ! in their supremest splendor seen. 

Here coruscate the sky-bom Northern Lights.** 

A strange exhilaration once possessed 
Their frames, nor seemed the frost so fierce as wont 
They ventured forth into the air to watch 
The stars, and tell the progress of the year ; 



To look on constellations that were hid 
By flaming day from lower latitudes ; 

Cold, but surpassing beautiful and clear 

The sparkling vault of heaven. When lo ! from depths 

Unseen, beyond horizon’s utmost bounds, — 

Where the smooth surface of the frozen sea 
Met the descending circle of the skies, — 

A sudden light leapt to the dark-blue heavens ; 

With faintest radiance fllled the farthest North, 

And scarce disturbed the shades of star-lit night ; 

But soon beams brighter, and with blood-red hue 
Suffuses earth and heaven. The ruby flame 
Glances along the snow-flelds, and on high 
Glasses itself in the smooth crystal front 
Of beetling icebergs ! Then still other tints 
Succeed, till multitudinous rainbows bend 
Their many-colored arches o’er the sky. 

Anon the trembling light, in circling rings. 

Seeks loftiest skies ; and from their centres pour 
Streams of a liquid fire, — a thousand hues 
Sparkling and interchanging as it bums, 



And, as arrested by some hidden rock, 

Gathering red foam, and spattering million sparks. 
That flash and die upon their wayward course. 

Next, mountains burnished gold bestud the sky, 

Darting the lightning from their flaming sides, 

While at their lurid base burn sulphur seas, 

Beating their glowing waves upon the shore, 

Or whirling them in pools of livid light. 

At last a quick explosion scatters far 

The fragmentary splendors, — seems the light 

Devoted to extinction ; — but again, 


As suddenly renewed, intensifies 
Into redoubled brilliancy ; and shapes 
E'en more fantastically beautiful. 

Flash out again to startle the rapt view. 

What soul that witnesseth such scenes sublime 
But must in speechless reverence bow the head ? 
They read amazement in each other's eyes. 

Tho' wrought to highest pitch of awe, their minds 
Conceive a joy 'mid all their dismal state ; 


A joy to see such wonders, to behold 
The strange illumination flash and play, 
And feel its fascination chain their souls ! 


F requent without, well armed against the frost, 
They until now went forth to watch the stars, 

To exercise the limbs, benumbed within 
The narrow quarters of their cabin rude ; 

Or to secure the drift-wood on the beach, 

For fuel thro* the unabating cold. 

But as the night continued fiercer grew 

The frost, and soon they venture forth no more. 

The ice-bear now no longer prowls about, 

The increasing cold confines him to his den, 

There to abide the winter’s lesser phase. 

But still the hungiy foxes, desperate grown. 

Maddened by scenting of the savory vats, 

Snifl&ng the frozen air, are tempted near ; 

They gnaw at walls and roof ; but snares are set. 

And many a victim yields them welcome dish, 

And helps to lengthen the fast-failing stores. 



It happened once, when evening's friendly hour 
Had kept the social circle closely drawn 
Till late, it was proposed to heap the hearth. 

And heat the room to more than common warmth ; 
A meagre handful coal, the remnant left 
From all the ship's supply, and long eked out 
With care, was cast upon the glowing brands ; 

Each slightest crevice in the walls was stopped, 
The chimney draft was checked, that not too soon 
The dying heat might pass into the sky. 

Now first real comfort steals along their limbs ; 

No shivering now, no 'numbing cold that wont 
To penetrate through all their densest furs. 

And blankets thickly heaped : delicious rest 
Visits each hammock. . . . 

. . . But the laboring breast 
Heaves with a painful breath, the pulse beats low. 
The throbbing brain grows dizzy, and ere long 
The choking firedamp had o'erwhelmed them all. 
But one, scarce conscious, reeling from his cot 
Bursts door and shutters thro', lets in the air^ 



Tho’ laden with the deadly frost, and saves 

The smothering crew, waked from the deadlier warmth. 

They shudder at the danger they escaped ; 

Scarce hoping to escape more distant death, 

They *re grateful for deliverance from a fate 
So near them ; and they praise God's Providence, 

Who through that same fierce frost, whose fatal touch 
Withers and kills, re^imated them. 

But scarce this peril past, another blow 
Dread consternation brought. Their trusty friend, 
Their counsellor, their refuge in distress, 

In swift calamity their moveless rock, — 

The brave and pious Barents, — fails, and death 
Stands threatening near. His thoughtful care devised, 
And his own weak and trembling hand prepared. 

The troublous story of their sojourn here ; 

In plainest style set forth, omitting naught. 

Recounts their journey, and its issue vain 
And fatal. Beckons Heemskerk, clasps his hand, 
Attempts to speak but cannot ; shows the roll, 

And points him to the spot on topmost roof 


Where he should fix it ; that it might be found 
In after years, and thus posterity — 

If ever ship should reach these shores, and safe 
Return — may know what dreadful fate was theirs. 

Who braved the terrors of the rigid North 
To seek new paths for Holland's growing fame. 

Now for a last farewell his ebbing powers 
He rallies, prays whoever may escape — 

If ever any homeward turn his way — 

Would carry greetings to his aged wife. 

And all a father's blessing to the loved 
And loving children ; tell them how his heart. 

Breaking with fruitless yearnings, beat for them 
With tenderest love, even to the final throb ; 

That no rebellious thoughts oppressed his soul. 

Nor robbed him of his peace with God, who still . . . 
He can no more : he nods his last farewell. 

With blinding tears they watch his parting breath. 
Their wretched plight its veriest depths of woe 
Had now accomplished. Silent there those lips 
That wont to stir their hearts, to build their hopes 



*Mid worst despair, to make their weakness strong, 
Their folly wisdom ; now no comfort theirs 
When comfort might not flow from that pale mouth. 
They yield themselves to an excess of grief : 

The fire demands replenishing ; their food 
Remains untasted on the waiting board ; 

They feel not, reck not, only know to grieve ! “ 

X.— DAY. 

N or yet the night seemed ready to depart, 

And morning still delayed. And now their hearts, 
Unmanned by long-continued misery, 

And hopes still disappointed, still deferred, 

Gave way to desperation, wrung with fears 
That grew as dire necessity increased. 

The unwonted cold, and penury's ill supplies, 

Make fatal inroads on their robust health ; 

And stretches more than one his weary limbs 
Upon the bier by Barents' lifeless side. 

And now a thought takes shape, with horror thrills 

Their hearts as they conceive it : when the hour 

Of utmost need shall come, to try by lot 

Whose dying body shall support the life 

Of those who then remain. Nor dreaded less 

The hour when must survive alone the last 

A.nd each considers he may be the last) 





Of all their number, and must singly brave 
His yet more frightiul death : in desperate fear 
They fling their hands to heaven, and beg the death 
That all too slowly comes . . . 

Thank God ! a beam 
Of the returning day pierces the East. 

They see it, doubt it, haste to wrench aside 
The tightened shutters, and, dumbfounded, gaze ! 
Yes, truly, there at last, and God be praised ! 

The morning twilight chases lingering night. 

The moon shines paler, fainter grow the stars. 
Reviving daylight paints with brightening hues 
The dull horizon, and illumes the tops 
Of icebergs : parts the heavy hanging clouds. 
Dulls the keen edge of Winter, seems to soothe 
The very blasts from Winter’s icy caves ; 

And brings at last the Sun. He rises. See ! 
Light, Hope, Deliverance, in his happy beams ! 
The Night must yield her sway, too long endured 
They greet the Day with shouts of boundless joy. 
And their devout thanksgivings stammer forth ! 

• • 


Now hope revived gives to their sinews strength ; 
With spade and pick-axe they attack the snow, 
Heaped in high banks against their cabin door. 
They open them a path, but gain each foot 
With labors all too great for their worn frames. 

But reck not, spare not, give themselves no rest 
Tho* hands and feet are almost paralyzed ; 

Their bending bodies stiffen, and will scarce 
Obey their stubborn wills : it matters not, 

So must they dig their grave, or win themselves 
Deliverance ! therefore bravely they maintain 
The desperate struggle, strain their utmost, near 
With every painful hour their goal, the boats, 

Their last resort, their only refuge now ! 

They find the craft, remove the covering snow. 
Repair the breaches, strengthen every point, 

Despoil the cabin to supply their lack. 

They gather all the stores (alas ! too light 
A ballast); and are ready to depart. 

They launch the boats upon the ice-bound sea : 
Then turn for one last look at the lone hut 



That gave them shelter in so fierce a clime ; 

Drop the sad tear for their departed mates, 

To whom the steely soil refused a grave, 

Whose dear remains repose in yonder cleft. 
Beneath the virgin snowdrifts for their pall. 

They gaze with wistful eye and failing heart 
On Barents’ storied scroll, surmounting high 
The cabin’s roof ; and then commend to God 
Their souls, and to the waves their creaking craft ! 


P ERILOUS the way on which they ventured now : 
Their boats' destruction, threatening famine, deaths 
Frightful and manifold, hung over them. 

Uncertain of their course, of distances 
Nor soundings knowing aught, and every coast 
Strange to their eyes, they steer their trembling skiffs 
Where'er the immeasurable ice-fields break, 

And leave a narrow space of open sea. 

Surrounds them now again that tumult wild 
Which shattered erst their ship's stout frame of oak : 
Fierce waves contending in their wrathful might 
With the vast iceberg's burden ; bowlders huge 
First rudely severed from the glittering mount, 

And hurled into the deep, and driven again 
To crash and crumble 'gainst the solid base. 

Or kebergs rush on icebergs, and the shock 




Beats the surrounding seas to boiling foam, 

While the loud thunder of their bursting hearts 
Deafens the frighted ear. Dubious the course 
Through such commotion ; often death is near, 

Oft seems inevitable, but kind Heaven 
As oft with sudden rescue succors them. 

And many a scene of splendor greets their view, 
Where seas are calm, and unresisting bear 
Their icy burdens. When the distance lends 
Perspective's magic to the sight, they see 
Fair palaces transparent to the light. 

And hanging gardens ; huge cathedral-domes, 

With many a glistening spire ; high castle-walls, 
With angles salient and regressive, towers . 
Octagonal and round, and glassy moats. 

And courts of tesselated pavements bright ; 

While over all the crystal fairy-world 
The sunbeams shed innumerable hues. 

But painful grows the scene when the worn mind 
Controls not cruel Fancy's wayward whims ; 


Then various scenes of home she conjures up, 

Starting among the wondrous ice-forms there. 

Here rise the well-known dunes, where breaks the Rhine 
Into the North Sea*; yon majestic pile 
Is Utrecht's famous dome ; those battlements 
Are Haarlem's, whence her sons and daughters braved. 
Indifferent to sex,” the oppressor's hosts ; 

And yonder lies the brave metropolis 

Of Holland's commerce : lo ! each several gate, 

Each bristling fortress, and each busy quay ! — 

Glad exultation bounds within the breast, 

As they behold these scenes. Are they so near 
To the beloved land, which they despaired 
Ever to see again ? Then melt the scenes. 

And anguished disappointment takes their place ; 

They know themselves the sport of waves and ice. 
Hither and thither flung on the wide main. 

In pathless waters, distant far from home. 

Following where Heaven's good favor chance to guide. 

And now the ice-fields cease, while far beyond 
Their utmost ken the open sea extends. 



But dark it heaves beneath the leaden sky, 

And more unfriendly still than deserts wide 
Of ice and §now : at least these offered them 
A foothold firm, if their frail craft should fail. 

But what in all yon limitless expanse, 

Those depths unfathomed, shall afford escape 
Lonely and helpless in these open skiffs ? 

Shall they return or shall they dare advance ? 

There is no way : these ocean wastes must bear 
Onward to safety or to death. They press 
Into the dark and threatening depths, to reach 
The far horizon, and what there of help 
May them befall ; or else at last to find 
Beneath those waters not unwelcome graves. 

Thus days on days, and nights succeeding nights, 
Thro* many a week they sail the trackless deep. 
Each rising morn revives their waning hopes ; 

Each eve brings fresh despair, and pressing woe. 

Oft fortune leads them to some coast from far 
Espied, but nearer not familiar grown ; 

They scale the rocks^ and look, but find no trace 


Of human dwelling, nor a clue to guide 
Their knowledge of the country ; but secure 
Grateful supplies of game, and eggs of birds, 

And relish strengthening food ; then they again • 
Trust their frail boats to the unfriendly waves. 
And onward drag their way, but sailing now 
With greater safety near the winding shores. 


O NE night the clouds had darkling hung 

In the black sky, and blown the fitful winds 
In rapid blasts, plowing the billowy main, 

And heaping up the waves to dangerous heights. 

In haste the luckless mariners had fled 
The laboring sea, and on the safer shore 
Endured the pitiless storm. When dawned the day 
They launched again on the yet troubled deep. 

And drew with painful strokes the unwilling boats.** 

Wearied with toil, when now the ascending sun 
Had drawn the heavy mists from sea and sky. 

They drop the lumbering oars, and mean to rest ; 

They look with eye accustomed to despair 
And disappointment, to survey the scene. 

And ... ha ! what shores are these ? what harbor 




Ships ride at anchor here, and . . . shrieks of joy 
Burst wild and sudden from their sobbing breasts, — 
There, there ! one vessel rivets all their gaze ; 

On yonder mast they fasten eager eyes. 

Oh ! sight too happy ! can the sight be true ? 

There floats upon the sunbright morning air, 

Holland's own flag ! The shock of sudden joy 
Overwhelms, unmans them, after hope deferred 
And life and rescue long despaired of. Now 
Icy delusions play not on their sense ; 

This is their nation's flag, yon vessel hers ; 

And these perchance are Texel's island-shores, 

Whence they departed on their Arctic cruise ! 

With trembling hands they seize upon the oars, 

Row to the ship, but scarce can bide the time. 

As they advance they rend the air with shouts ; 

Soon grate the boats along the keel, they grasp 
The ropes thrown by the expectant crew above. 

They swing themsehres aloft ; set foot on board. . . . 
Fortune most unexpected, never hoped ! . . . 

Lo ! Ryp strains Heemskerck to his thankful heart ! 



is Ryp, his comrade, partner of his way 
Till that first tempest severed him, and cast 
On this same sheltering coast. Not Texel's isle. 
Nor any region near their longed-for homes. 

But a far-distant White Sea harbor this. 

In Russia's rigid empire. Safely here 

Ryp passed the winter : now prepared to sail 

The favorable seas, to hasten back 

To Holland, and announce her Heemskerck's loss. 

Astonishment and joy have paralyzed 
The tongue, and scarce coherent words express 
The excess of gratitude ; they know no grade 
Of rank, but officers and men embrace 
As friends and brothers long thought dead, and now 
Recovered from the grave. The anchors weighed. 
They spread all sails before the favoring winds ; 

But how their prayers and wishes far outstrip 
The hurrying breezes ! Oft the thrilling tale 
Of all their strange adventure, and the woes 
Of those long months of darkness, moves to tears 
The listening comrade ; for the mournful thought 


Went back to those who had remained behind ; 

To him whom all these rugged hearts so loved, 


Who lay there lonely. Thus in converse oft 
They spent the hours, beguiling tedious time. 

Soon the blue distance yields the well-known shores ; 
They trace the silvery beach ; from yonder waves 
Start the familiar scenes ; rise towering spires, 

The landmarks of their birthplace : all the crew 
Crowd to the decks ; the anchors drop, the yawl 
Is soon afloat along the keel ; they row 
To shore, fall on their knees, and sobbing kiss, 

In ecstasy of joy, the. very sand ! 

The astonished nation greets with welcome warm 
The long-lost wanderers. Where’er they go 
Through all the land, enthusiastic crowds 
Press wonderingly about them. Old and young 
With loud applause their courage celebrate. 

And render thanks to Heaven for their escape. 

The grateful Fatherland receives her sons ; 



She glories in their bravery, for of such 
Heroes are made, and such the hearts will pour 
Their life-blood for her sacred liberties. 

This all the thought that fills her generous heart ; 

She crowns their hardships with abundant meed, 

And strews her laurels with a liberal hand : 

Counts not the issue^ marks the intent alone I 

And now the Muse has sung the enterprise ; 

In joyous notes has told the happy end. 

The glad return of these brave steadfast hearts ; 

But still her closing strains an echo have 
Of the dire region, where with plaintive harp 
She sat, and sang the woes she could not heal. 

For through the deafening shouts of welcome, still 
She hears the moaning of the icy wind 
On those bleak shores. From the safe hearths and warm, 
Where clasped in love's embrace the lost ones bask. 

She turns and penetrates the distant scene 
Where lonely stands the hut,” and winters still 
Prepare the grave of Nature, and for man 
A thousand deaths, Then thrilled with pity sings ; 


Farewell ! thou hapless and remorseless clime,'* 
Ye shores unblest, of every favor void, 

A long farewell ! Oh, never more may man 
Set foot upon you, nor may human breath 
Flow out upon your cruel atmosphere ! 

Be ye unvisited, ye wastes, cut off 
From the all else inhabitable earth ! 

Farewell, thou most inhospitable isle ! 

And may posterity record thy name. 

Famed by none other than our Heemskerck*s woes ! 



z. Page 54. 

“ , . • the law surface lay 

Beneath the ocean's bosom, . • /’ 

The geographical peculiarity of Holland, with its surface below the level of the 
sea at high tide, so that the country must be defended against the incursions of 
the waves by means of dykes, is too well known to need more than an allusion 

2. Page 55. 

. And if such path," 

It is interesting to observe that this is the very course pursued by NordenskiOld 
in 1878-9. The famous Northeast Passage,” so long the fond dream of Arctic 
explorers, has thus been finally found and successfully accomplished. What it is 
worth to commerce, as a short and easy trade-route to China and the East Indies 
(which, at one time, it was seriously hoped it might prove to be), it is now not 
difficult to estimate. A simple perusal of the Vega’s ” adventures will suffice. 

3. Page 56. 

** Barents himself will govern Heemskerck's helm," 

The true relation which William Barents bore to the present undertaking has 
been explained in the Hbtorical Introduction. He was the one whose busy brain 
pondered day and night, who largely conceived the enterprise, whose enthusiasm 
infected others, until the requisite ships and crews had been procured. It seems 
almost like unpardonable injustice on the poet’s part to ascribe all this to Heems- 
kerck, who consented to occupy one of the secondary positions, after the project 
was fairly under way. But probably the following circumstances may explain the 
matter. Heemskerck, after his return from Nova Zembla, rose to the rank of Ad- 
miral. In 1606 he was sent in command of a fleet into the Spanish waters. On 
April 25th of that year he engaged, in the Bay of Gibraltar, a fleet of the enemy’s 
vessels of greatly superior calibre, and manned by greatly superior numbers. Vic- 
tory was on the side of the Dutch, but their Admiral was killed in the early part 
of the battle. Thus Heemskerck figures far more prominently in general history, 



and is much better known in Holland, than Barents, whose reputation is only 
great in the annals of Arctic exploration. Hence, probably, by poetic license, the 
author was induced to exaggerate Heemskerck’s connection with the present expe- 
dition. The spelling of the name of Barents deviates from the poet’s, in the 
change of to I have done this on Mr. Van Campen’s authority, who 

bases hb spelling on Barents’ own signature affixed to the scroll recovered by Mr. 
Gardiner in 1876, and presented by him to the Dutch Government. This spelling, 
moreover, has now the sanction of the Dutch Geographical Society (see note 13). 

4. Page 58. 

“ . . , to defy and set the law 

To Nature t making the rebellious blasts 
Their servants^ , . .** 

Thb language may suffer somewhat from obscurity. But a ship may well be 
said to cause almost opposing winds to further its progress. “ A modem merchant- 
man in moderate weather can sail within six points of the wind.” That is, if the 
wind is from the north, such vessel might still pursue a course northeast by 

5. Page 77. 

. . deal 

Death and destruction thro* their hairy ranks ! * ** 

The translator has ventured somewhat to moderate the description of the terror 
which struck these sturdy sailors on seeing the bears. The author represents them 
as overwhelmed with a desperate and paralyzing fear — which is strange considering 
they were safe within doors, with guns and ammunition ready at hand. I have 
also presumed so far as to substitute Heemskerck for Barents. Heemskerck, having 
been made so prominent by the poet, ought to have something to do. It b curious 
that in almost all the critical situations of the poem Barents is seen to be the man 
for the occasion. Does the poet hereby pay an unconsious tribute to the facts of 
history, and make amends for his injustice in the earlier part ? 

6 . Page 86 . 

“ • • • if gdmes^ or forms 

Of sportive ceremony . . . ” 

On the 6th of January . . , they bethought themselves that it was Twelfth- 
Night, or Three Kings’ Eve ... A Twelfth-Night feast was forthwith or- 
dained, . . . lots were drawn for King, and the choice fell on the gunner, who 
was forthwith proclaimed Monarch of NovaZembla.” (Motley, ** United Nether- 
lands,” III., p. 569. See abo Historical Introduction.) 

7. Page 89. 

“ Breda by stratagem^ by valor Hulst** 

Xl’p evept in appiept or modem warfare furpbhes mpre thrillin|; incident^ or the 



display of more genuine heroism, than the stratagem whereby, in 1590, the castle 
of Breda was taken from the Spanish. Hulst was taken in 1591, after an incred- 
ibly short siege of scarcely five days. 

8. Page 89. 

“ William the Silent^ martyred for his land," 

On July zo, 1584, this great and good man was assassinated by a poor deluded 
fanatic, who had been tempted to the 'deed by the enormous price set upon the 
head of the Prince by the King of Spain. 

9. Page 89. 

“ Wilhelmus van Nassouwen," 

William of Nassau.” A patriotic song, — the national hymn of those days, — 
composed by St. Aldegonde, the Mayor of Antwerp during the famous siege by 
the Prince of Parma, 1584-5. The ^Prince of Orange was also Count of Nassau, 
hence the title, in which the antiquated Dutch form of the word occurs. It is still 
sung with enthusiasm in Holland, although the recognized national hymn is the 
“ Wien Neerlands Blocd,” by our author. 

10. Page 90. 

. . forget 

Their dire surroundings and imprisonment," 

In regard to the passage which this line closes, the translator wishes to say that 
he has here again taken some liberties. In the original, one individual gives utter- 
ance to all the experiences respecting wife and children ; one man sings the song, 
and, instead of a general conversation concerning Maurice and his deeds, the same 
person sings about these deeds. The translator ventures to think that the poet 
has not been badly misrepresented, as his text furnishes the hints and for the 
most part the exact language of the variations. It was thought that more vividness 
to the scene, more reality and interest to the narrative, would be imparted by 
slightly altering the original in the way presented. 

11. Page 99. 

“ They feel not, reck not, only know to grieve I " 

That this grief was not extravagant, but warranted by the worth of the man, 
may be seen from the following words of Motley : And thus the hero, who fmr 

vivid intelligence, courage, and perseverance amid every obstacle, is fit to be 
classed among the noblest of maritime adventurers, had ended his career. Nor 
was it unmeet that the man who had led these three great although unsuccessful 
enterprises toward the North Pole [see Historical Introduction] should be laid at 
last to rest— like the soldier dying in a lost battle— upon the field of his glorious 
labors.” United Netherlands,” HI., p. 573.) 


It needs no explanation that, while the poet has chosen to let Barents die in 
the hut, history records that he died during the voyage homeward in the open 
boats. Of course, poetic license bears him out in this discrepancy. 

12 . Page io6 . 

. her sons and daughters braved 
Indifferent to sex ...” 

The city of Haarlem, the feeblest fortress in Holland, was besieged by an army 
of 30,000 Spanish veterans, from December xo, 157a, to July xa, X573. We shall 
understand how this si^^ could have been so greatly prolonged under those cir- 
cumstances, when we gain an insight into the spirit that animated its defenders 
from the following citation : The garrison numbered about one thousand pioneers 

or delvers, three thousand fighting men, and tibout thret hundred fighting women. 
The last was a most efficient corps, all females of respectable character, armed 
with sword, musket, and dagger. Their chief. Kenau Hasselaer, was a widow of 
distinguished family and unblemished reputation, about forty-seven years of age, 
who at the head of her Amazons participated in many of the most fiercely contested 
actions of the siege, both within and without the walls* (Motley, Rise of the 
Dutch Republic,” II., p. 433.) 

13. Page 113. 

“ Where lonely stands the hut, ...” 

The tradition of the memorable wintering of the Hollanders in Ice Haven is, 
it is said, still preserved among the Nova Zembla morse and seal hunters, who call 
the spot where they resided Sporai Navolok. But the discoveries within the last 
few years of the Norwegian Captain Elling Carlsen and of the English yachtsman 
Mr. Charles L. W. Gardiner, and the accounts which have thus been furnished of 
the Behoudenis~huisy or ” house of safety,” yield somewhat more than a traditional 
knowledge of the odd, extemporized habitation. Their testimony fully confirms 
the fact — ^if confirmation were needed of the unvarnished narrative of Gerrit de 
Veer — that the strange history told in the preceding pages, both in prose and verse, 
is no Arabian Nights tale. Captain Carlsen, who was the first known navigator to 
enter Ice Haven since Barents and his companions entered it in X596, visited the 
wintering place in September, X87X, and brought away some relics, which were 
finally secured by Holland and placed in the naval Museum at the Hague, and an 
elaborate report was made thereon by the Royal Archivist. The interior of the 
hut, judging by the position of the relics, was precisely as it is represented in the 
curious old drawing in De Veer’s Journal of the ” house wherein we wintered.” 
The series of standing bedplaces ranged along one side of the room was found 
to have been exactly as shown in the illustration. Several pieces of furniture and 
portions of military equipments were still in their old places ; notably the clock, 
the halberd, and the muskets. Entering into the abode nearly three centuries after 



its habitation, Carlsen enumerates carefully the utensils, stores, and articles of 
use — there were between sixty-five and seventy all told — ^remaining in the rude 
home which sheltered Barents and hU faithful crew. There were the cooking- 
pans over the fireplace, the antique Dutch clock as it had been fastened to the 
wall, the arms and tools, the drinking vessels, the instruments, and the books that 
served to beguile the winter hours of that long Arctic night 387 years ago. A 
History of China ’* indicates the goal that Barents sought, while a Manual of 
Navigation” denotes the sound knowledge which guided his efforts to reach it. 
While these are choice and interesting memorials, well worthy of preservation, 
certainly not the least interesting among these relics are the flute which still gives 
forth a few notes when tried, and the small shoes of, as is supposed, the poor little 
shipVboy who died in the rigorous Northern winter. It may be here noted, that 
on the 17th of August, 1875, another Norwegian captain, M. Gundersen, visited 
the ice-harbor of Barents the next after Caflsen. In a chest, the upper part of 
which was quite mouldered away, he found an old journal, two charts, and a 
grapnel. The charts, pasted upon sail-cloth, are much injured.- The words ” Ger- 
mania inferior ” may be read on them. The journal was proved to be a manuscript 
Dutch translation of a narrative of the English expedition of Pet and Jackman 
(1580) given in Hakluyt. 

In the summer of 2876, Mr. Charles L. W. Gardiner, an English gentleman, 
laudably converting a yachting excursion to the Kara Sea into what afterward 
proved a most useful and even signal voyage of discovery, visited in the latter part 
of July and first of August of that year the wintering-place of Barents and Heems- 
kerck. Mr. Gardiner’s discoveries were even more numerous than those of Carl* 
sen, and (it may be added) Gundersen’s included ; amounting in all to zza articles, 
or kinds of articles, some of which are most interesting. These were presented to 
the Dutch Government by Mr. Gardiner to take their place with the other relics 
in the Naval Museum, and in recognition of his thoughtful generosity his Majesty 
the King of the Netherlands commanded a gold medal to be struck in honor of the 
donor and presented to him, while the relics were also reported upon by the Royal 
Archivist, and the report has been translated into English. Among the relics re- 
covered by Mr. Gardiner, the remains of carpenters’ tools, broken parts of old 
weapons, and sailors’ materials constitute the greater part of the collection. But 
of the more interesting relics th^ Dutch books, also fragments of books, includ- 
ing h]rmn-books, were found ; and from the latter it is evident enough with what 
kind of songs those good, ingenuous tars whiled away the long, awful Polar night 
when wintering in Nova Zembla. In allusion to other objects of interest (to quote 
from the Preface to the English translation of this Report) : “Not to speak of the 
quill pen which may still be written with — the pen employed, we may believe, by 
the hand of the dying Barents, — the candle which, though belonging to an age long 
past, can still give light, and the Amsterdam flag, certainly the first European 
color that ever passed a winter in the Arctic, and doubtless deemed by the Dutch 
capital the brightest jewel in her commercial crown — ^it is impossible not to refer